It’s a question that is far more divisive than it seems: Do trademark symbols and registered symbols belong in a press release?
On one side of the issue, you have life science companies and their lawyers. These are companies who are deservingly proud of their trademarks—whether unregistered or registered—and want to minimize any legal risk of other companies claiming those marks to be their own.
On the other side, you have journalists. Writers and editors at pretty much any publication will universally remove those little TM and (R) marks. It’s safe to say you’ll never see those symbols appear in the editorial content of a respectable newspaper, magazine or website.
Somewhere in the middle of these two groups lies the CanaleComm content team. We want to ensure that the legal needs of life science companies are being met while also satisfying our friends in the media. With most press releases, the end goal is to obtain media coverage, so it makes sense that we want to encourage companies to present their press releases in the most publication-ready form as possible. This is why we also edit press releases to meet other AP Style guidelines, such as for job titles, dates and acronyms.
Over the years, we have consulted many sources in our pursuit of press release excellence, and we’ve landed on this rule: If a company or its lawyers feel strongly about including a trademark, service mark or registered mark in a press release, do so only after the first reference of the product or service within the body of the release. We discourage companies from using marks in headlines, as these symbols often become corrupted when resurfaced on other websites and can even trigger spam filters (we hear this firsthand from representatives at the two main press release wire services).
But we’re not the only one with an opinion on this tricky subject. For more information, please read the following articles:
- BusinessWire: 8 Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press Releases: “Trademark symbols – avoid them. Trademarks and other symbols are not, and actually never have been, meant for use in PR and news copy. Remove these symbols to make it easier for reporters to utilize your releases.”
- PR Daily: An Ode to AP Style and Why It Matters in PR: “There’s no room for trademarks. Sometimes my clients’ legal departments win out on this one. They insist on including a trademark (™) or registered mark (®) after every mention of a brand or branded product, whereas AP style says to drop these symbols. I might relent and include these symbols on first reference if instructed, but I consider each dropped symbol a big win, a space saver, and one step closer to a cleaner read.”
- Using Trademark Symbols in Writing: Answering Questions on Use of Trademark and Registered Trademark Symbols in Writing: “With the exception of certain business writing, you do not need to use the trademark, registered trademark or service mark symbols in your writing.”
- Forbes: When and How Do I Have to Use Trademark Symbols? (Q&A with IP Attorney): “It is a common misconception that each and every instance of the mark should bear a trademark symbol. Overuse creates visual clutter and may detract from the aesthetic appeal of the piece. Provided there is at least one conspicuous use of the TM, SM, or ® on the face of the writing, do not be afraid to eliminate superfluous markings.”