In our everyday lives we use certain words as common speech, and think nothing about trademark or branding. However, when writing fiction, the complex of using these words can be a financial and legal matter. Sometimes sticking to general terms is the safest bet.
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Originally posted as the Dun Writin’—Now Whut? series on this blog, EDITING 101 is a weekly refresher series for some of you and brand new for others.
Courtesy of Adirondack Editing
Using Registered Trademarks and Brand Names
When you’re writing and your character uses a Kleenex, you’ve just used a registered trademark. Normally in non-fiction or business writing, you’d see it this way: Kleenex® or Kleenex™. To avoid using a brand name, you could say your character used a “tissue.”
You do not have to use ® or ™ in fiction writing.
The words aspirin, escalator, phillips-head screw, zipper, yo-yo, and vaseline were once trademarked but have lost that protection. They acquired such market dominance that the brand names became genericized. Companies want their products to become popular—but not too popular!—since there’s a price to pay for that popularity.
Kleenex®, Xerox®, Band-Aid®, and Plexiglas® were once in danger of losing their trademark…
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