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Suppose you write a paper and you use Wolfram Mathematica to do calculations. In the article, should the program be mentioned as "Wolfram Mathematica" or "Wolfram Mathematica®" (with the "registered trademark symbol" immediately following the mark and in superscript style)?

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I don't recall ever having seen a trademark symbol in an academic paper. On the other hand, in my area of theoretical computer science/maths, trademarked terms don't get mentioned very often. Even when people do use Mathematica, they often just say "a computer algebra package". – David Richerby May 27 '14 at 21:23
Only if you're working for Lucas Arts. – CodesInChaos May 28 '14 at 8:51
As I side note, when you mention a program it is good to mention version (as versions differ; maybe one method changes its behavior). And when it is numerics, even more details are desirable. – Piotr Migdal May 28 '14 at 11:44
There is never an obligation to use the ® symbol when mentioning a trademark. Its use is a (rather old-fashioned and out-of-style) means for trademark holders to assert their trademark and emphasize that the word is not a generic term. – R.. May 28 '14 at 13:57
Also be aware that not all program names are trademarks, and not all trademarks are registered trademarks. If you want to highlight a trademark that is not registered, you use superscript TM. – Steve Jessop May 28 '14 at 15:04

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Formally, yes, registered names should have the appropriate symbol listed (usually a superscript "R" or "TM"). However, in common usage, such trademarks are often neglected. In most cases, it's easiest just to follow the journal's recommended guidelines for how to handle such cases. You may just need to indicate the trademark symbol, and the journal will do the work of supplying the correct formatting for you.

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Thank you for your comment. Actually, I'm not following instructions from any particular journal, I'm just asking in general. But according to what you say, it seems it is better to include the symbol than not doing it. – User X May 27 '14 at 19:59
@UserX: There's nothing to lose by using it. – aeismail May 27 '14 at 20:01
@aeismail I've found nowhere that one is required to use them. But in some places it is unlawful to abuse "R" or "TM". It is clearly used to indicate that something is a (registered) trademark (so official websites related to a particular product use it). Except for such I rarely see it. – Piotr Migdal May 27 '14 at 21:23
FWIW, if you use LaTeX you can just create a macro for such names and add/remove such symbols later. – Raphael May 28 '14 at 6:33
Ideally you would only indicate a mark once (the first time it's used, usually in body text). There's never any need to give a trademark symbol more than once. – Phil Perry May 28 '14 at 15:10

For Python, PSF Trademark Usage Policy states:

  • Use of the word "Python" in email and informally -- Allowed without the circle-R symbol.
  • Use of the word "Python" in academic papers, theses, and books -- Allowed without the circle-R symbol. Books should include the symbol.

I don't know how it is in general. Wikipedia pages on registered trademark symbols mentions that it indicates trademark status, but does not mention that it needs to be used.

In any case, I see software in papers being mentioned without "TM"/"R", though often in emphasis.

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Typically, use of a trademark symbol by the owner (in your example, Wolfram) is an assertion of their rights - "Hey, we own this name! It refers to our product and you cannot use it to mislead folks into thinking it is your product, or your use of our product, or that we endorse your product's integration with our product..." and so on. So, it is critical for the owner of the trademark to use it often and consistently.

You, on the other hand, do not need to use it to protect their rights, but need to use it in order to not to infringe on their rights. For example, use the mark it if you are talking about your product or service in relation to their trademarked product.

The more formal the mode of publication, the more you should consider using their mark. Book=yes, email=probably not. Like an abbreviation, use it once at the first occurrence only. Nobody wants to read something littered with circle-R. First use signifies you recognize their rights.

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Do you have any source to back up your statement that you have to use a trademark symbol not to infringe anybody’s rights? – Wrzlprmft May 28 '14 at 10:32
It's protecting you against being accused of misusing someone's mark. In an academic paper, it would be more of a courtesy than anything else, but in commercial use it could be worth real money if the owner feels that you're trading (making money) on their mark without acknowledging their ownership of the mark (a valuable trade name). – Phil Perry May 28 '14 at 15:15
@PhilPerry: After all I found, this is not among the functions of trademark symbols. Rather the symbols’ purpose is to let others know that you consider a name to be your trademark or have registered it as such. Due to this, using a trademark symbol with a name without being the trademark holder, may even be contraproductive for the purpose you describe. – Wrzlprmft May 29 '14 at 20:00

I could not find anything on any legal requirements to use trademark symbols if you are not the trademark holder (or are required to use them by a contract). Here it is explicitly stated that you do not have to use them even in the “stronger” case that you are not reselling the product.

This leaves the question of style, on which I share the opinion of But FUNKY!!!web!!! is their trademark!, which is mainly on capitalisation and punctuation, but can also be applied to trademark symbols to some extent: One should rather adhere to general spelling and language rules and to what benefits the reader than to what a company wants its product to be called. Following this, I would call Mathematica just “Mathematica”, maybe in italics or small-caps in accordance with the journal’s or your own style and accompanied by an appropriate citation. I would not use a copyright symbol as it does not benefit the reader or anybody else¹ – it just diverts from the content of the text and slightly looks like you are paid by the software company to advertise their product. (I also would not use “Wolfram Mathematica“ unless I have to expect that some reader confuses it with something else which is also called “Mathematica”.)

With Mathematica in particular, there may be situations where one has to expect some readers to be confused, as, e.g., they do not directly identify it as a software due to its name being not obviously a name. However, in those cases you can refer to it as “the Mathematica computer algebra system” or provide a citation.

¹ except, perhaps, the marketing people of the software company – who are not going to read your publication

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