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Write the Right Word: Avoid Using Brand Names

Try not to use brand names unless they are essential to your message because we don’t want to appear to be endorsing a particular product or company.

Brand name is a nonlegal term for a service mark or trademark.

Use a generic version when possible. For example: “Camp activities will include swimming, canoeing and in-line skating (not Rollerblading).” “Put all of the ingredients into a slow cooker (not Crock Pot) and cook on high for six hours.”

However, using a brand name is unavoidable sometimes. For example, “Baythroid XL is one insecticide registered for use in barley.” In this case, a generic term would not be specific enough.

If we use brand names in an Extension publication, this is what the university attorney suggested we put at the end of the publication: The NDSU Extension Service does not endorse commercial products or companies even though reference may be made to trade names, trademarks or service names.


Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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