When are capital letters required in product names?

  • What products? What do you mean? If I say an IBM computer, in French I will write: un ordinateur IBM. If I say, these wonderful L'Oréal products, I will say: ces produits merveilleux de L'Oréal. – Lambie Jan 23 '18 at 21:55
  • @Lambie en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_naming – jlliagre Jan 24 '18 at 14:03
  • @jlliagre Please stop it would you?? The question is not clear at all. Your answer discusses brand names for products and the use of brand names that have become the noun for a product. Let's just stop, shall we?? As asked, the answer to the question is: never. But it depends on what the asker means by: product name. – Lambie Jan 24 '18 at 14:10
  • A product name is not the same as product naming. – Lambie Jan 24 '18 at 14:14
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    @Lambie La question porte sur l'existence et/ou la portée d'une contrainte sur les noms de produits, en l'occurrence la présence de capitales. Je ne vois pas comment une telle contrainte pourrait ne pas faire partie de ce que l'on peut appeler le "nommage de produits". C'est le b.a.-ba de la logique... – jlliagre Jan 24 '18 at 15:17

Product and brand names are expected to follow the standard rules for proper names, i.e. start with a capital letter, but they are never required to do so. They are "free" proper nouns and are not required to comply with any orthographic or grammatical rule, especially when used in advertisements and logos. In France, they are registered (déposés) at the INPI and the property of their owners.

For example, the obsolete brand name :

> france telecom

used to break the uppercase requirement for France and the accents requirement in télécom.

It is now called Orange but its logo still uses a full lowercase spelling:

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The same can occasionally happen for product names like this one :

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or that one:

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There are also opposite cases where the whole product is written in capitals, but doing it doesn't break the French orthography rules. Only the first letter is considered a majuscule, the other ones are just capitales. e.g.:

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The same name might also be registered with the opposite capitalization:

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In plain text, the proper noun requirement for an initial uppercase is normally prevailing so a sentence using that brand name will read Orange, une Twingo. On the other hand, if a product name becomes so widely used that it becomes a common name, its leading uppercase letter is often lost. e.g. un bic, un vélux, un caddie, une freebox, ...

Of course, product names like iPhone keep their non standard spelling, nobody writes Iphone, but un ThinkPad is often written un thinkpad and sometimes un Thinkpad.

  • I disagree with this. Official company names like France Télécom are written like that. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_S.A. Anyway, France Télécom is not a product, it's a company. Orange is also not a product. – Lambie Jan 23 '18 at 21:52
  • @Lambie The rule (or lack of rule) for product names is the same than the one for brand/company names. France Télécom had several spelling changes and the all lowercase Orange logo is quite well known. Answer edited. – jlliagre Jan 24 '18 at 1:22
  • A logo is a logo. Not a product name. Orange, when a service, is called Orange with a capital o. In any case, the OP was not clear. – Lambie Jan 24 '18 at 12:44
  • @Lambie an iPhone, a freebox, a bic, a twingo and a vélux are all product names. – jlliagre Jan 24 '18 at 13:51
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    @Lambie Et si l’on pouvait y discerner des tendances générales et les regrouper, comme le fait ici jlliagre? (dont le nom en ce lieu, justement, ne commence pas par une majuscule, sans que l’on soit contraint d’y voir une grave entorse à la langue française). Qu’une réponse de cette qualité se soit attirée deux downvotes me semble surréaliste. – Pas un clue Jan 24 '18 at 15:28

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