Trademarks of Other Companies – What to do when referencing Trademarks of Other Companies in your ads

We all understand that there are special rules when referencing another companies trademark.  But does that mean you cannot make a reference to another company’s mark in your advertising material?  There’s other rules that come up here under fair competition rules etc. but we will focus our answer here on what’s the proper way to reference the other company’s trademark or service mark.

The best answer is to find some element of permission in the use of the other company’s mark. For example, if we want to reference Apple’s app store or the Apple iPhone, we should do a quick google search like ‘apple use of trademark guidelines”.   When you do that search, you will find Apple’s webpage entitled Guidelines for Using Apple Trademarks and Copyrights.  You will find a lot of rules of what Apple expects of you when using their marks.  Also, you will see these rules about giving proper “attribution” to Apple for the Apple marks.

Proper Trademark Notice and Attribution

1. Distribution Within the United States Only

a. On product, product documentation, or other product communications that will be distributed only in the United States, use the appropriate trademark symbol (TM, SM, ®) the first time the Apple trademark appears in the text of the advertisement, brochure, or other material.

b. Refer to the Apple Trademark List for the correct trademark symbol, spelling of the trademark, and generic term to use with the trademark. Generally, the symbol appears at the right shoulder of the trademark (except the Apple Logo, where the logo appears at the right foot).

c. Include an attribution of Apple’s ownership of its trademarks within the credit notice section of your product, product documentation, or other product communication.

Following are the correct formats:

_________ and _______ are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.

_________ and _______ are trademarks of Apple Inc.


Keep in mind in the mortgage business that these rules apply to references to Fannie Mae products for example.  So if you want to mention a Fannie Mae product that has been trademarked by Fannie Mae, you will have to use the following attribution to Fannie:

HomePath® is a registered trademark of Fannie Mae.


Note that if you are using logos for any Fannie Mae products you will need to get advance permission from Fannie Mae to use such logo in your advertisements.

Keep these rules in mind next time you are referencing another company’s trademarks and intellectual property.


About Admin

Our team has extensive experience in reviewing mortgage advertisements and advising clients about mortgage compliance issues including use of Compliance Management Systems, State and Federal compliance matters, and running the Legal and Compliance departments of major mortgage banking entities. Our company has Advertising Quick Hits learning Guides available as well as a self-study six week E-Course that will help your team member, or you, become more skilled at becoming an Advertising Compliance Officer for your company.

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