Re: Trademark Possessives

Subject: Re: Trademark Possessives
From: Isaac Rabinovitch <isaacr -at- mailsnare -dot- net>
To: techwr-l
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 09:26:30 -0800

John Posada wrote:

Am I right on this and their web site writers don't follow it correctly,
or is there some fine point I'm missing?

Yes, yes, and yes. Yes you're right (or at least your understanding is the same as mine). Yes, the web site writers are not following the rules. And Yes, you're missing a fine point: there's always some lack of compliance with trademark rules, through sloppiness, ignorance, or whatever. What counts is that the company is acting in good faith to maintain proper trademark usage.

In theory, these little mistakes could add up to the point where "Microsoft" would become a generic term. But my inexpert guess is that there is zero chance of this happening. More important than the adjective-not-noun thing is that people not use the mark as a generic term, or if they do, the mark owner makes a good-faith effort to prevent it.

I've *never* heard the word "Microsoft" use as a generic term. Contrast this with "Xerox" and "Kleenex" which most people treat as synonyms for "photocopy" and "paper tissue". But to the best of my knowledge even these trademarks aren't in danger, because their owners work hard to suppress generic usage when they can.

If this careless usage ever becomes a legal issue, Microsoft will crack down and make its writers comply with the style book. Such a crackdown would probably be enough to undo any damage done.

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