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I am contemplating writing a technical book (and probably self-publishing it) on a proprietary programming interface for a well-known software package produced by a very large company. The company name and many of its packages are of course trademarked.

  • Is it legal for to use their package names in my book?
  • Is it legal to write about their software (in a good light, of course)?
  • If so, how do I go about addressing the trademarks - in a foreword that states something along the lines of "foo is a trademark of bar"?

I have some connections at the company, who I am possibly thinking about getting in touch with, as well.

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Please note the standard disclaimer - advice on Writers is more opinion and less legal advice and, as far as I know, none of us are lawyers. – justkt Feb 7 '12 at 14:23

As long as you address the ownership of the trademark and make it clear that you are not affiliated with the trademark owner, there shouldn't be a problem. Also, make sure you capitalize their trademarked names or brands. For example: Crisco oil or Fanta soda or Microsoft Office. Below is an example of a disclaimer you could/should include to ensure that you are not trying to infringe on their trademark.

Product names, logos, brands, and other trademarks featured or referred to within this manuscript are the property of their respective trademark holders.

These trademark holders are not affiliated with the author or any of the author's representatives. They do not sponsor or endorse the contents, materials, or processes discussed within this book.

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Using a trademark term in a title is known as Nominative Use. There is no problem with this as long as you don't suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the company. Also you can't use their font/images. For more info see this article on Wikipedia.

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This probably isn't a direct answer, but I suggest obtaining an existing technical book of similar content and examining how its author addressed these issues. Assuming this existing book was published recently by a reputable firm in your country, it would likely be a good example to work from.

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You'd want to be sure the book was licensed by the issuing company, though. – Kate S. Feb 7 '12 at 12:22

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