What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

(R) and TM

Been so long since I've actually posted about a real-live editorial issue from here in the bunker, I hardly know what to do.

I was called in to proofread a corporate history recently. I've done plenty of them, but this was for a new client, so that's nice. After sending the pages back, the project manager sent me this note:

XYZ Inc. is asking why we didn't use copyright [sic] or TM signs in our narrative - it's mostly on items in chapters 7 & 8. Is there some reason we didn't?


First, in classic freelance CYA mode, that's not something I figured as a proofreader I'd be looking for or making decisions about. That would be a question for the writer and XYZ's legal and marketing teams.

But as an editor, here's what I'd say. TMs and (R)s are not required in running text. Typically they'd only be used in display copy -- heads and perhaps jacket copy and such. Even so, it really comes down to how much XYZ feels the need to aggressively protect its own trademarks and on what turf.

As an editor, if I received the manuscript from XYZ, I'd presume that XYZ would know which terms were trademarked and that the terms were in the manuscript as the company wanted them. I would not presume to question or change, under the assumption that the manuscript had already cleared all the internal legal hurdles. That's ultimately XYZ's responsibility because they have the answers; neither the publisher nor the editor can presume to know where those marks go. That's my two cents, anyway.

Too, given that this book is largely going to be for internal distribution, I'd think -- and presumably also for sale at the Visitor Center -- it's going out to a friendly crowd. And it may be that's a moot point, but companies tend to be less fussy when the stakes aren't as high. (R)s and TMs have a way of junking up otherwise nice-looking text.

For companies that do want to insert those pesky beasts in running text, some will do it on every instance, which looks like hell. Some will do it only on the first mention on a page or spread, which seems arbitrary. Basically it's the call of the legal beagles and how much they want to assert their authority.

So, class, did I handle it correctly?


moi said...

Yes. Good Lord. That would be like reading text over a series of speed bumps. I recently copy edited a small cookbook. Almost every recipe included in its list of ingredients a brand name item. Client wanted me to add TM, R or C marks as necessary. Thankfully, they went with my suggestion to just use the generic terms, i.e. tomato juice, rather than V8 (TM).

czar said...

Moi: Isn't V8 mostly celery juice, its color notwithstanding? I forget what the ingredients on the label are. Maybe I'm wrong.

Besides, as long as you honor the typography and exact spelling of the name, there's no need for the (R)/TM. Coca-Cola won't freak out if you get the name right but don't include the mark. But the brown storm will come down on your head if you write about Coca Cola [no hyphen] or, god forbid, coke.