Suppose you write a paper and you use Wolfram Mathematica to do calculations. In the article, should the program be mentioned with the registered-trademark symbol immediately following the name and in superscript style, i.e., as follows?

Wolfram Mathematica®

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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". Commented May 27, 2014 at 21:23
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    Only if you're working for Lucas Arts. Commented May 28, 2014 at 8:51
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    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. Commented May 28, 2014 at 11:44
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    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. Commented May 28, 2014 at 13:57
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    It's very common in the non-academic world to simply list all known trademarks (R), (TM), (SM), (P), etc. used in a work in a section in the Front Matter: "Mathematica(R) is a registered trademark of Wolfram Corporation" or whatever. That way you are acknowledging their ownership of a mark without having to scatter ® throughout the paper (actually, once is enough).
    – Phil Perry
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 15:08

6 Answers 6


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.

  • 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
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 19:59
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    @UserX: There's nothing to lose by using it.
    – aeismail
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:01
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    @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. Commented May 27, 2014 at 21:23
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    FWIW, if you use LaTeX you can just create a macro for such names and add/remove such symbols later.
    – Raphael
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 6:33
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    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
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 15:10

APA, MLA and Chicago style manuals all recommend not to use trademark symbols.


In publications that are not advertising or sales materials, all that is necessary is to use the proper spelling and capitalization of the name of the product. A trademark attorney can tell you when the use of the symbol is required.

from The Chicago Manual of Style Online


Although owners of trademarked names may suggest otherwise, publishers are not obligated to denote the trademark status of a name when that name is mentioned in text. Authors representing trademark owners frequently feel obligated to use the trademark or registered-trademark symbol (™ or ®) after the first mention of their product names but often do not use these symbols consistently to indicate the trademark status of other names not owned by their particular sponsor or employer.

Because the fair and consistent use of these symbols (or of footnotes denoting the trademark owners) requires exhaustive verification and vigilance on the part of the editor and because the use of these symbols (or footnotes) is not required by law, do not add trademark symbols, registered-trademark symbols, or trademark-denoting footnotes to trade names in MLA publications. In the interest of consistency, editors should also delete such references when inserted by authors.

At the same time, MLA recognizes that authors are often supported and encouraged by their institutions or other funders and that this support may be what enables an author to produce any written work at all. MLA editors are therefore advised to consider carefully an author’s express request that trademark status of particular names be denoted (merely including symbols or footnotes in the submitted manuscript does not constitute an “express request”).

If trademark status is denoted in a particular case, these guidelines should be used:

  • Use the trademark or registered-trademark symbol, not a footnote. -The author must specify which words should be denoted and with which symbol (™ and ® are not interchangeable). Trade names not specified by the author should not be cited with these symbols.
  • Use the symbol no more than four times in one article for each trade name: the first mention in the article’s title, the first mention in the running head, the first mention in the abstract, and the first mention in the article’s text.
  • If the article is part of a JMLA symposium, add symbols to the trade names in question in all other articles in the symposium for consistency.

In all cases, whether trademarks are denoted or not, the proper spelling and capitalization of trade names should always be verified and consistent. See Appendix C for a list of trade names common to MLA publications and their proper spelling.

from the MLA Style Manual


No, it's not necessary to include the trademark symbol for a trademarked term in academic writing. The trademark symbol is generally necessary to include only in commercial writing, meaning writing that pertains to commerce or the buying and selling of goods (e.g., advertisements). The word Twitter (and other names of companies) can be written in regular, nonitalic font as well.

from the APA Style blog (answer by the author to a comment)

In certain jurisdictions the trademark owner may be required to use a trademark symbol or may benefit from the use of such symbols in a law suit (see the International Trademark Association fact sheet on Marking Requirements).

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    Trademark owners are indeed under the obligation to use trademark signs, or it can leave the trademark unprotected under "use it or lose it" doctrines. Other authors are not so obliged.
    – E.P.
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 22:28
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    @E.P. You misunderstand. "Use it or lose it" refers to the use of the trademark itself (e.g. the words "Coca Cola"), not the trademark symbol that may designate a trademark.
    – user47731
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 22:06

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.


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, several attorneys state that you do not have to use them even in the “stronger” case that you are reselling the product. Briefly, it’s the trademark owner who is responsible for using it and there is nothing that requires you to use these symbols, unless you have signed a contract to do so:

It is the trademark registrant/manufacturer who is responsible for putting the indication on the product, not you.

Since you are merely resoling [sic] the product, you have no obligation to put any symbol (R or TM) anywhere.

This leaves the question of style, on which I share the opinion of But FUNKY!!!web!!!DUDES.com is their trademark! (written by a professional copy editor), 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:

The companies and their trademark lawyers want you to duplicate their capitalization. They also want you to use the trademark symbol. They also want you to use the word "brand" and a generic identifier to guard against the loss of their trademarks (journalists eat Big Macs; McDonald's lawyers might want us to eat BIG MAC® brand sandwich products). Are you going to give in to all of those demands? Do you want your stories to look like press releases?

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”.)

There may be some situations specific to Mathematica, 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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    Do you want your stories to look like press releases? This is in tune with my own experience: When I read something not written and published by the company manufacturing a product (i.e. not advertising or a manual), and that book or journal or news article presents product names with a trademark symbol, I always have the vague but unshakeable impression that the author has been paid (or bribed) by the company to present their product favourably and as a result I distrust anything they write as biased and untrue. A text that looks like marketing material is not trustworthy.
    – user47731
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 14:36

In most of the world (not the USA) the meaning of ™ or ® (or © for that matter) is nonexistent. When you refer to a trademark you certainly don't have to do anything. When you use a trademark (as a way to sell your things) what matters is the use, not some lettering, although the lettering could give a tiny nudge in case of doubt (that there shouldn't be in the first place).


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, e.g., you should use it in a book, but probably not in an email. Like an abbreviation, use it once at the first occurrence only. Nobody wants to read something littered with ®s. The first use signifies that 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
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 10:32
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    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
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 15:15
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    @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
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 20:00

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