You already know the importance of registering your trade mark, but what about way you use it? Improper use can lead to the dilution of your brand – and you don’t want that happen. To help businesses ensure their trade marks remain strong and valid, there is an easy-to-remember guide tha will help you make sure you use your trade mark correctly at all times – the ACID test.

What is the trade mark ACID test?

ACID refers to the proper use of your trade mark and stands for:

  • Adjective
  • Consistent
  • Identification
  • Distinctive


If you want to maintain the integrity and strength of your trade mark, it must be a proper adjective. For example, you can say “please hand me a KLEENEX tissue”, but it’s incorrect to say “this is going to be a 5-KLEENEX film.” In the same way, it’s correct to say “I had a STARBUCKS cappuccino”, but not to say “I had a STARBUCKS.” If you think that’s just being nit-picky, think about the demise of the trade marks ELEVATOR, KEROSENE, and CORNFLAKES. These once famous trade marks, are now merely generic product names all because of their misuse.


The next thing to think about is how you use your trade mark within your branding. If you write it in capitals, that’s how it should appear every time you use it within your marketing. If you want to show it in bold print, again, bold text is to be adopted for every use. This is because, by maintaining consistency, you’re emphasising the trade mark, so it’s seen as more than just another word.


Identification refers to whether you should use TM or ®. Our recent post, difference between registered and unregistered trade marks, talks about this in more detail. The symbols refer to the status of your trade mark. Therefore, a registered trade mark is denoted by the use of ®, whereas the use of TM identifies an unregistered trade markTM. As we mentioned in the post mentioned above: “If you use the registered trade mark symbol (®) without having registered the mark, it is seen as misleading and deceptive. If you are challenged over it, you could be subject to severe penalties.”


When using your trade mark within your marketing, it should be instantly recognisable and stand out from the rest of the content. That means it could be in capitals, italics, or bold. It’s also a good idea to use the noun that identifies the trade mark within your marketing. A local example would be PADDY & SCOTT’S coffee.

Make your trade mark stand out

Using your trade mark correctly and consistently will give your brand the strongest possible protection.That sounds like common sense, but even the biggest companies can get it wrong. Considering the time and money you’ve put into its development, you’d be mad not to. The distinctive and consistent use of your trade mark will enable you to build a strong business, goodwill, and brand reputation within your chosen field. From your customers’ point of view, it will help them to identify your products and service. Your trade mark will reassure them to the provenance of your product so they can buy with confidence. That’s why it’s important to make sure your trade mark passes the ACID test.

To sure your trade mark passes the ACID test: