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General Guidelines

The following trademark standards and guidelines generally apply to all forms of communications produced at 3M. It is important to familiarize yourself with them. For more detailed trademark guidelines, see the appropriate topic within this section for the type of communications you are creating. Before starting the process of developing or registering a trademark, contact the 3M Office of Intellectual Property Counsel. They also can help establish trademark rights in the United States and other countries.

Visit the 3M Legal Center for more information about trademarks, the trademark process and trademark law.

Use the legally required components in order

1. A trademark must always be used as an adjective, never as a noun or verb. Within text and when speaking, a trademark must be followed by a noun that is appropriate to aptly describe the product. Use the ™ or ® symbol at the end of a trademark. Two or more trademarks used together must always be distinguished from each other by using the ™ or ® symbols on both (or all) of the trademarks each time they are used. Do not apply the later-use rule in this instance.

Correct example:

An O-Cel-O™ StayFresh™ Sponge is an indispensable product for any home

Incorrect example:

An O-Cel-O StayFresh™ Sponge is an indispensable product for any home

2. The trademark may be followed by a generic descriptor (or “product identity statement”) that also contains an adjective, provided that a noun, appropriate to aptly describe the product, also appears.

Correct example:

3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material

Incorrect example:

3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective

3. The trademark must be followed by a generic descriptor ending in a noun. The generic descriptor must be pertinent and appropriate to aptly describe the product. This also helps differentiate a particular product from other products in the brand line.

Correct example:

3M™ Indag™ Aggregate hardens concrete floor surfaces. (“Aggregate” is an appropriate noun that aptly describes the product.)

Incorrect example:

3M has loyal 3M™ Indag™ Customers. (“Customers” is an inappropriate noun.)

4. The model or product numbers should follow the generic descriptor.

Correct example:

3M™ Fire Barrier Plenum Wrap 5A

Incorrect example:

3M™ 5A Fire Barrier Plenum Wrap

Use the ® symbol only in countries where the trademark is registered and only after obtaining legal approval

Only use the ® symbol if you are certain the trademark is registered in the country where it will be seen. Some countries use other symbols to indicate a registered trademark. Contact the Office of Intellectual Property Counsel before using the ® symbol on any 3M trademark.

Use the appropriate font and position

While there is no standard ratio that controls the size of the ™ or ®, use the superscript version of the Helvetica Neue Condensed or Arial font, based on your application.


“Outstanding acoustics are the hallmark of 3M™ Littmann® Electronic Stethoscopes, assuring …”

Set trademark symbols in parentheses when needed

Some applications do not allow you to set ™ or ® in superscript. In this case, put the trademark symbol in parentheses the first time it appears.

Correct examples:

3M™ Stretchable Tape holds drums and boxes securely on warehouse pallets.

Post-it® Tape Flags are ideal for making changes on printed documents.

Use “3M™” in text when used as a trademark, but not when referring to "3M" the company (a “trade name” use). Do not include the ™ symbol when referring to the company.

Correct example:

3M has a long history of innovative products. For example, 3M™ Static Event Detectors can be attached to printed circuit boards to trigger various voltage levels.

Incorrect example:

3M™ will release quarterly earnings on Friday.

Link product trademarks and strategic brands to 3M in a sentence

Product trademarks should be preceded by 3M™ when used in a sentence. Strategic brands are endorsed by 3M when used in a sentence.

Correct trademark example:

3M™ Scotchlok™ Crimping Tool gets the job done.

Correct strategic brand example:

Enhance your message with Scotchprint® Graphics from 3M.

Trademarks as acronyms

Only in certain instances can acronyms be trademarks. Once adopted as a trademark, avoid using the words from which the acronym was derived, if they describe the product.

Correct example

3M™ VHB™ Acrylic Foam Tape works best. (“VHB™” is a trademark and “Acrylic Foam Tape” is the generic descriptor.

Incorrect example:

3M™ DRD™ Digital Recording Device works best for digital recording.

Properly use trademarks owned by other companies

When using trademarks belonging to another party, use the trademark correctly, including the appropriate symbols and generic descriptor. A statement of ownership (a “trademark attribution statement”) must also appear, usually as a footnote. Make sure to contact other companies to develop correct wording around their trademarks.

Correct example for each use:

Keep your supply of Post-it® Notes right next to your Macintosh™ Computer.

Correct trademark attribution statement:

Macintosh is a trademark of Apple Computer Inc. Post-it is a registered trademark of 3M.

Other companies using 3M trademarks

When another company uses a 3M trademark in its communications, each full product name is to be used each time the trademark is used. In addition, a trademark attribution statement of ownership is required to be provided as a footnote.

Correct example for each use:

Durable floor graphics use the Scotchprint™ Electronic Graphic System from 3M to create a new, cost-effective medium for advertising.

Correct trademark attribution statement for multiple trademarks:

Scotchprint and Post-it are trademarks of 3M.

Note: When a 3M product is listed in a communication from another company with that company’s products, include the 3M product in the trademark attribution statement as a footnote. When a 3M product is listed in a 3M communication, protect the trademark within the text. While a trademark attribution statement is not legally required in this instance, it is recommended and a good practice.

Do not use a trademark as a verb, possessive, noun or in plural form

Correct Example:

Few products can equal the performance of O-Cel-O™ StayFresh™ Sponges, Scotchgard® Protector and Post-it® Notes from 3M.

Incorrect examples:

I Scotchgarded my fabric. (a verb)

StayFresh’s most important quality is its scrubbing ability (a possessive)

Few products live up to the performance of a Post-it. (a noun, no generic descriptor)

I bought several StayFreshs to do the job. (plural, no generic descriptor)

Translate generic descriptors, but not the trademark

Generic descriptors must always be translated, not transliterated. In some languages, the generic descriptor precedes the trademark.

English example:

3M™ Nomad™ Floor Matting

Spanish example:

Tapetes 3M™ Nomad™

Transliterate trademarks when required or necessary

Transliteration means the sound of the trademark phonetically in another language, so when it is pronounced, it sounds similar to the original English language trademark. However, great care should be used in selecting a transliteration, because you are creating a new trademark. See more at the Legal Center.

Always use the correct company name

3M Company is the legal name. Always refer to the company as “3M Company”; not Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company or 3M Corporation.

Do not alter trademarks

Always use 3M trademarks in an approved manner. They may not be altered by abbreviation, all caps, spelling changes, etc. Never superimpose over a trademark.

3M has decided not to use the ™ or ® symbols with the 3M logo