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capitalization: copyrighted names

Capitalize trade names of drugs and any other manufactured products unless they have become established as common nouns:

  • Plexiglas
  • Tylenol
  • Valium
  • Prozac
  • Kleenex


  • escalator
  • nylon
  • trampoline

To determine proper usage, check the Canadian Trade Index or your dictionary.

Some industries, especially in the high-technology field, use capital letters within the name of a product. The names of all such terms and products, including those of computer languages, should be capitalized according to the manufacturer’s preference:

  • WordPerfect
  • VisiCalc

Wherever possible, do not use trade names as generic nouns or adjectives. For example, write adhesive tape, not Scotch tape. Some words, such as Frisbee and realtor, are commonly used as generic terms, but they are in fact copyrighted. The word Aspirin is trademarked (and capitalized) in Canada, but not in the United States.