Grammarously Speaking: Don't Apostrophize that Trademark

A new conundrum past my plate today.
Do you place an apostrophe to create a possessive after a trademarked name?
I'm sure a few of you are thinking, "who the heck gives a crud about this kind of stuff?"
This is one of the few instances when intellectual property attorneys and marketers share common ground.
IP lawyers say that trademarked names act as adjectives to a product and, therefore, cannot be made possessive. If a trademarked name is treated as a noun, the trademark could be rendered useless.
Branding aficionados and writers agree: don't dilute the brand. And putting an apostrophe after a registration mark or trademark just looks weird.
So don't write:
"LinkedIn®'s professional networking site is outpacing other job board sites."
Instead write:
"Professional networking site LinkedIn® is outpacing other job board sites."

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Mark Gould said...

Two things...

It is optional to use the (R) symbol to denote that a term is a trademark.

If IP lawyers are really of the view that trademarks are adjectives, then they are mistaken. As your two example sentences show, they can be nouns. What I think really irks IP lawyers is that trademarks are used generically (such as 'kleenex' as a noun for any old paper tissue or 'hoovering' or 'googling' when the apparatus used is made by Dyson or Microsoft Bing).

Anonymous said...

Using an apostrophe after a registered trademark is hard to read, and you should avoid it if all possible.

I've been searching for this answer for what feels like an age. Thanks for the validation!

John E. Petty said...

A name, trademarked or not, is always a noun by definition. I think you mean that a trademarked name should never be used generically as a verb ("I'll Xerox those papers," or "Hand me a band-aid"). The former makes no sense, as it would obviate the use of the name in any circumstances. The latter makes perfect sense, as repeated use in a generic sense would definitely tend to dilute the trademark.


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