Just as Googleâ€”the company thatÂ parodies its own logoâ€”sent 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.
Â Â We received a letter from Allerganâ€™s legal associate for the Asiaâ€“Paci?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.
Â Â 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.
Â Â 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.
Â Â We will write Google as well, and to my knowledge, we have always written Botox with a capital.
Â Â We are asked in the letterÂ to put the registered trade mark symbol next to Botox, which I cannot see happening because of our own house style. Basically: if we donâ€™t do it for ourselves, why should we do it for anyone else? Itâ€™s simply not part of regular textÂ composition. It would only, therefore,Â appear in advertorial if it were something we were setting.
Â Â And if we applied the suggested standard in a fashion magazine, we would have to see the symbol at leastÂ a dozen times per page when it comes toÂ those pages showcasing products.
Â Â 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.)
Botoxâ€™s proprietary information â€¦ (The use of Botox in the possessive.)
Â Â We patrol the usage of our logo and name, too, telling people about the case itâ€™s meant to be set in,Â so I can see where Allergan is coming from, but these are going to be tricky.
Â Â The key to publishing is ?nding that af?nity with readers and writing in an accessible tone.
Â Â In the ?rst example, we are meant to say, according to Allergan, â€˜She is receiving Botox injectionsâ€™ or â€˜Botox therapy.â€™ Now weâ€™re aware, weâ€™ll keep an eye out butÂ this is one that I think will slip through every now and then because of common usage.
Â Â The second oneÂ will hardly occur in written text, but I have to admit toÂ Googling thingsâ€”Google says I should say, â€˜search withÂ Googleâ€™. I think any change to the Googling exampleÂ has come a bit too lateâ€”but we would neverÂ talk about Googling in reference to searchingÂ in Yahoo! or Windows Live. But I can go along with this: Botox is not a verb, and itÂ was never conceived to be aÂ verb. Allergan has caught this in time,Â I believe.
Â Â The third one is rather unreasonable, however. To say a word cannot be formed intoÂ a possessive goes a little too far. For the second example, since the trade mark was never conceived as a verb, Allergan is right toÂ clamp down. At a stretch, the ?rst one is tolerable and even understandable. But to limit the usage of everyday English rulesâ€”that this one noun is so special thatÂ it cannot beÂ turned into a possessive? (It also asks that it not be turned into a plural, i.e. no Botoxes.)
Â Â We do not, for example, play the game where, if a company insists that its trade mark be all uppercase, that we follow. ThereÂ is a house style here, andÂ we would open the ?oodgates if everyone insisted on their own. Even advertisers donâ€™t get greater accommodation: last year, weÂ wrote AudiÂ Allroad Quattro (Audi thinks the modelâ€™s name is all lowercase).
Â Â Â 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 Botoxâ€”which is theÂ same standard we apply to Lycra, LurexÂ andÂ similar names thatÂ have either fallen, or are in danger of falling, into generic usage. But the third request is plain weirdâ€”and, as far as I know, this is the only time someone has said that their trade mark cannot be turned into a possessive.
Â Â Weâ€™ll help Allergan, but within reason.