Just as Google‚ÄĒthe company that¬†parodies its own logo‚ÄĒsent out notices to the media in 2006 on how to use its name, and suffered a small backlash from some quarters, Allergan is trying to protect its Botox trade mark by doing something similar.
¬†¬† We received a letter from Allergan‚Äôs legal associate for the Asia‚ÄďPaci?c, Nicole Wilson, today, informing us that Botox is a trade mark of her employer and that it should not be used generically to describe other botulinum toxins. This makes some sense because I am not even sure if people know Botox should refer to only the Allergan product.
¬†¬† The DLE brochure included with her letter details how Aspirin, Thermos and yo-yo became generic terms and includes a how-to guide for using the Botox trade mark.
¬†¬† Generally, at Lucire we will signal a proper trade mark with capitalization. Hence, we write Formica and, as you see above, Aspirin and Thermos, though yo-yo has crossed the line into everyday English for us. Search around the site or in our print magazines and I am sure you will see Latex.
¬†¬† We will write Google as well, and to my knowledge, we have always written Botox with a capital.
¬†¬† We are asked in the letter¬†to put the registered trade mark symbol next to Botox, which I cannot see happening because of our own house style. Basically: if we don‚Äôt do it for ourselves, why should we do it for anyone else? It‚Äôs simply not part of regular text¬†composition. It would only, therefore,¬†appear in advertorial if it were something we were setting.
¬†¬† And if we applied the suggested standard in a fashion magazine, we would have to see the symbol at least¬†a dozen times per page when it comes to¬†those pages showcasing products.
¬†¬† Meanwhile, the brochure gives some interesting examples that I wonder if it will be easy to enforce them in a busy sub-editing or editing situation:
She is receiving Botox.
Botox the patient. (The use of Botox as a verb.)
Botox‚Äôs proprietary information ‚Ä¶ (The use of Botox in the possessive.)
¬†¬† We patrol the usage of our logo and name, too, telling people about the case it‚Äôs meant to be set in,¬†so I can see where Allergan is coming from, but these are going to be tricky.
¬†¬† The key to publishing is ?nding that af?nity with readers and writing in an accessible tone.
¬†¬† In the ?rst example, we are meant to say, according to Allergan, ‚ÄėShe is receiving Botox injections‚Äô or ‚ÄėBotox therapy.‚Äô Now we‚Äôre aware, we‚Äôll keep an eye out but¬†this is one that I think will slip through every now and then because of common usage.
¬†¬† The second one¬†will hardly occur in written text, but I have to admit to¬†Googling things‚ÄĒGoogle says I should say, ‚Äėsearch with¬†Google‚Äô. I think any change to the Googling example¬†has come a bit too late‚ÄĒbut we would never¬†talk about Googling in reference to searching¬†in Yahoo! or Windows Live. But I can go along with this: Botox is not a verb, and it¬†was never conceived to be a¬†verb. Allergan has caught this in time,¬†I believe.
¬†¬† The third one is rather unreasonable, however. To say a word cannot be formed into¬†a possessive goes a little too far. For the second example, since the trade mark was never conceived as a verb, Allergan is right to¬†clamp down. At a stretch, the ?rst one is tolerable and even understandable. But to limit the usage of everyday English rules‚ÄĒthat this one noun is so special that¬†it cannot be¬†turned into a possessive? (It also asks that it not be turned into a plural, i.e. no Botoxes.)
¬†¬† We do not, for example, play the game where, if a company insists that its trade mark be all uppercase, that we follow. There¬†is a house style here, and¬†we would open the ?oodgates if everyone insisted on their own. Even advertisers don‚Äôt get greater accommodation: last year, we¬†wrote Audi¬†Allroad Quattro (Audi thinks the model‚Äôs name is all lowercase).
¬†¬†¬†However, what we can de?nitely promise Allergan is that we would never refer to a rival product or anything in the botulinum toxin category that it does not make as Botox‚ÄĒwhich is the¬†same standard we apply to Lycra, Lurex¬†and¬†similar names that¬†have either fallen, or are in danger of falling, into generic usage. But the third request is plain weird‚ÄĒand, as far as I know, this is the only time someone has said that their trade mark cannot be turned into a possessive.
¬†¬† We‚Äôll help Allergan, but within reason.