Re: Trademarks and Online help

Subject: Re: Trademarks and Online help
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1999 07:29:17 -0500

Anal-retentive lawyers insist that it be inserted on every page, at every
usage. Bah. The general requirement is that the public be notified that this
is a trademark you're using, and then it's vital to say only if it's yours.
You can use somebody else's trademark in certain contexts, but only if you
make it clear that you're not claiming it for yourself. There's no law that
says you can't write something like "Using WriterBlock...", despite
companies that howl if you do. You'd think that companies would appreciate
getting free name distribution, but their lawyers quickly change their

On the other hand, it's just good sense and good citizenship to acknowledge
other peoples' trademarks on a page somewhere that people would expect to
see it. Just "WriterBlock is a registered trademark of Simper Software..."
or something similar.

For your own trademark, the same principle applies, but it's more important
to do it. You're not obligated to defend somebody else's trademark, but you
ARE obligated to defend your own. Using your own trademark indiscriminantly
can backfire later if somebody else steals it and claims that you didn't
value it, either.

Given this logic, I'd establish one page or topic that holds all the
intellectual property acknowledgements and leave them all there. I'd then
label the page or topic appropriately and give easy access to it. The whole
point is to give a potential thief reasonable notice, and a prominently
displayed page satisfies that requirement, I think. The thrust of the
strategy is to give yourself something defensible later, not to machine-gun
the reader with constant notices. No thief can then claim that he just
"didn't see it", because somebody will ask "did you look very hard?"

In short, I think MS's guidelines are perfectly fine. Remember, they've paid
their lawyers huge bucks to reach their standards.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

----- Original Message -----
From: Aoidìn Scully <ascully -at- flexicom -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 1999 6:04 AM
Subject: Trademarks and Online help

>I've searched the archives...and yes, someone asked this same question
>in 96, but I can't find any answers to it. So...
>How do you use trademarks in online help? The MS Manual only tells you
>what to do for 'online books', which I think isn't quite the same, as
>the user would be expected to read sequentially.
>So does one just put the trandemark on the 'Intro' page to your help,
>despute the fact that the user might never read that page, or do you put
>the trademark on every page?
>Thanks in advance,

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