Using correct FIRST program names in websites

I’ve noticed that many FIRST team websites do not use the correct versions of the FIRST program names in their content. It’s a good idea to use the right names when including them in your sites (and adding links to the pages that describe each program - or including a description on your sites - is also something that would help visitors to your site):

FIRST Robotics Competition
FIRST Vex Challenge
FIRST LEGO League (notice that LEGO is all in caps)
Junior FIRST LEGO League

I was wondering if FIRST should have periods after each letter like a proper acronym. What I did was I put it without when used alone and with when used alongside S.P.A.M. since spam must officially have periods to be legal (as opposed to the copyrighted trademark of Hormel). I use the periods in that case so it does not look awkward having one acronym with periods and one without.

Therefore, should we use either or should we only use one of those forms?

FIRST is FIRST, not F.I.R.S.T.

I am a senior marketing professional who deals with trademarks as part of my job. We wrote to the Navy to get official permission to use the Top Gun logo for our team. The truth is that if you are not using “Spam” for commercial purposes, and do not use the Spam logo that Hormel uses, you are incredibly unlikely to run into trouble with Hormel. Putting periods between the letters doesn’t make it any less likely that they will view your use of “SPAM” as a mark infringement, either. My recommendation is that you go ahead and use SPAM without the periods and stop worrying about it. If you want to worry, the periods won’t help you. I recommend that you write to Hormel’s customer relations department and let them know how you are using “SPAM” and get their permission. Good luck.

Acronyms are tricky, style-wise. There’s no universally accepted convention. See here for lots of examples and usage notes.

I think that you mean registered trademark… One can copyright a work of literature (for example), but not simply a name. This letter was released at the same time as the new logo usage document, which can also be found on the FIRST website. On ChiefDelphi we tend to use the word “FIRST” without italicizing it, but for proper usage it should be italicized as well.

It’s also true, Kathie, that we use brand names all the time without using the trademarked logo. For example, it is perfectly appropriate to write “Ford” without using their actual mark, which is the script “Ford” that the company has used for decades. Likewise, the trademarked logo for “FIRST” is in italics, but that does not mean that we have to use that version in text applications. In fact, italicizing the word “FIRST” would only be a replica of the mark if you used the same font that FIRST used when they registered the mark. Italicizing the wrong font is not really an acceptable instantiation of the trademark.

On the other other hand, though, it won’t really hurt anything to put FIRST in italics on your Websites. I’m sure they would appreciate the exposure.

The worst thing we can do is write “First” which I’ve seen on websites and in the press a lot. At least if we write FIRST in all caps most people will realize it’s an acronym for something.

I have been informed off-list (thank you) that Hormel asked S.P.A.M. to add the periods to their name. Oh, well. Some corporations just do stupid things sometimes.