Amber Swope, Earley & Associates

Many technical documents contain references to trademarked phrases. According to Wikipedia, “A trademark or trade mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.” This means that it is imperative that information developers specify the exact phrase and properly identify the type of trademark.

To ensure that all trademark instances are accurate, you can create a master instance of each trademark phrase using the <tm> element and then to reference the <tm> element using content references in the text.

Trademark Basics

Although there is no single entity with which companies or organizations can register trademarks (or trademarks for the United States and Philippines), all countries recognize the following categories and symbols:

  • ™ for an unregistered trademark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand goods
  • SM for an unregistered service mark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand services
  • ® for a registered trademark1

Trademarks and Localization

As with most content, there are implications to consider when localizing into different languages. The first issue is that the same name may be registered differently in different countries. As part of your localization process, verify the trademark registration for each country. If the same trademarked phrase is registered differently, then you must create multiple instances of the element, specify the appropriate trademark type, and identify for which country each instance applies. You could do this using a descriptive value for the @id attribute. In addition, the proper symbol for indicating the appropriate trademark category differs between countries. As part of creating language-specific processing, verify the appropriate symbol usage for each country and set up the language-specific transform to properly generate the correct symbols. Lastly, you must also indicate if the trademarked phrase should be translated and if so, into which language. Use the @translate attribute and @xml:lang attributes as you do for other content.

Trademark Processing

The default DITA-Open Toolkit (DITA-OT) behavior processes trademarks differently by deliverable type. For online output, such as XHTML or CHM, it generates the trademark symbol for the first instance of the <tm> element in a topic, but does not generate the symbol for all subsequent instance of the <tm> element with the same values. For example, if you use the <tm> element for ABC™ multiple times in the same topic and every instance of the element has exactly the same values, the DITA-OT generates “ABC™” for the first instance, but “ABC” for all subsequent instances. The default behavior for PDF output generates the symbol for every instance of the trademark.

When you create the transforms for your deliverables, you can specify the appropriate processing for each deliverable type. For example, if your legal team requires that every instance of a trademarked phrase use the appropriate trademark symbol, then you can update the processing to generate the trademarks appropriately.

<tm> Element Syntax

The <tm> element syntax is: <tm tmtype=type trademark=trademark tmclass=categorytmowner=owner>trademark text</tm>

The <tm> element includes the following element-specific attributes:

Attribute

Description

tmtype

Specifies unregistered, registered trademark or unregistered service mark (required)

trademark

Identifies the text for the service or trademark

tmclass

Identifies to which user-specified category the mark applies

tmowner

Identifies the organization or company that owns the rights

 

See the DITA Language Specification for more information about the <tm> element.

Trademark Examples

The following examples are designed to work with the default DITA-OT processing. If you are using custom transforms or processing, then you may need to adjust some of the attribute values in the example markup.

To Generate a Basic Trademark

To properly generate trademarks with the default DITA-OT processing, you must specify values for the @tmtype attribute.

Unregistered Trademark
To generate ABC™, where ABC is the unregistered trademarked product, use the following markup:

To create this example, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the <tm> element in the location where you want the phrase to appear.
  2. ABC between the <tm> element tags.
  3. Specify tm as the @tmtype attribute value.

Registered trademark
To generate ABC®, where ABC is the registered trademarked product, use the following markup:

To update the markup used in “Unregistered trademark” example, specify reg as the @tmtype attribute value.

To Generate Multiple Trademarks for a Single Phrase

Some product names that you reference may have multiple trademarks. To generate the proper symbols, nest the <tm> elements. The following example shows nested elements to generate Magic® ABC™.

The first <tm> element generates the “ABC™”, which is the second word in the phrase, and the nested <tm> element generates the “Magic®”.

To create this example, follow these steps:

  1. Create the markup used in the “Unregistered trademark” example.
  2. Insert another <tm> element within the original trademark.
  3. Type Magic between the <tm> element tags.
  4. Specify reg as the @tmtype attribute value.
  5. Specify Magic as the @trademark attribute value.

To Generate Trademarks with Non-trademark Text

In some cases you need to include a phrase in which only part of the phrase is trademarked. In this case, nest the <tm> element in a <keyword> element and add the non-trademarked text in <keyword> element. The following example shows nested elements to generate ABC™ Pro.

The <keyword> element generates the “Pro”, which is the second word in the phrase, and the nested <tm> element generates the “ABC™”.

To create this example, follow these steps:

  1. Create a <keyword> element.
  2. Insert the markup used in “Unregistered trademark” example.
  3. After the closing </tm> tag, type Pro.

To content reference trademarks

To maintain consistency, many teams make a master list of trademarks and author insert content references into topics. To allow the most flexibility in reusing the trademark, nest the <tm> element in a <keyword> element and apply an identifier with the @id attribute to the <keyword> element. The following example shows nested elements to generate ABC™ Pro as defined in the master trademark file, trademark_list.xml.

When an author needs to reference the trademark in a topic, they insert the following syntax in the topic where the trademark should appear:

To create this example, follow these steps:

  1. Create a DITA reference file and specify ref_trademark_master as the value for the @id attribute for the topic.
    <reference id=”ref_trademark_master”>
  2. Create the markup used in “Unregisterd trademark” example in the file.
  3. Specify tm_ABC_Pro as the value for the @id attribute for the keyword.
  4. Save the file with “trademark_list.xml” as the file name.
  5. In another topic, insert a <keyword> element.
  6. Specify the element to reference the <keyword> element from the master keyword file.

Summary

To provide consistent trademark usage throughout your content set, use the <tm> element. This requires a bit of work to set up, but benefits are that your content complies with the legal requirements for citing trademarked phrases and that the authors need to insert the proper content reference rather than remember the proper formatting for every instance of a trademark phrase.

1 From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark

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