How Do I Properly Use My Trademark?

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Trademarks are properly used as adjectives, and describe the source of a product or service – the marks in the phrases “Sunkist® orange” or “Google® search engine” serve the same linguistic function as generic modifiers like “ripe banana” or “fast computer,” although their impact on consumers (and in trademark law) are significantly different.

Using the mark as a noun or verb can have negative consequences. When a term becomes so widely used to refer to a type of product rather than to identify a specific provider of that product, the term can change from a protectable mark to a non-protectable generic term. The SINGER sewing machine brand briefly became generic, and other prominent companies have undertaken advertising campaigns to preserve the distinctiveness of popular but often misused brands like ROLLERBLADE.

For more about using the ® and ™ symbols, please read our guide "What Trademark Symbol Should I Use?"