Taser — capitalize it!

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida student was Tasered and arrested Monday when he attempted to speak at a forum with U.S. Sen. John Kerry during a question and answer session, university officials said….

….While as many as four police officers tried to remove Meyer from the forum, he yelled for help and asked “What did I do?” Minutes after Meyer started speaking, he was Tasered.

Source

Until tonight, I did not know that it was necessary to capitalize the word Taser.

(For the record, I only went on Fox News because it’s the only news outlet reporting that Britney is going to lose custody of her kids tomorrow.)

There are so many words that we say all the time and often don’t realize need to be capitalized — like Band-Aids, for example. In fact, there was recently a lawsuit over the use of the term “Flexi-Wings” on feminine products. It turns out it’s trademarked, like many other seemingly innocuous phrases (including GRAMMAR VANDAL).

It turns out that Taser is not merely a type of weapon, as I believed, but a specific trademarked weapon that must be capitalized at all times. I can understand that for a noun, but when it’s being used as a verb, it just looks strange!

As for the content of the story itself, I’m shocked that it had to come to Tasering an unarmed person, and I have the feeling that the whole story isn’t being reported. (It never said that he attacked any of the officers or did anything more than refusing to stop speaking, though it did say he was charged with resisting arrest.) Why couldn’t they have just cuffed him or even slammed him to the ground?

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14 responses to “Taser — capitalize it!

  1. This looks familiar. Oh yeah, UCLA officers did it first!

    http://dailybruin.com/news/2006/nov/15/breaking-news-student-shot-wit/
    http://dailybruin.com/news/2006/nov/16/community-responds-to-taser-us/

    Just thought that would be of interest. It was eventually recommended in a third-party report that Tasers not be used by UCLA police against “‘passively or mildly resistant’ people.” UF should take note.

    Though, back to grammar, I am pretty sure “Tasered” is not a word. It was officially “shot with a Taser” when we reported on the UCLA incident.

  2. Looks like those Web addresses don’t show, so if anyone is interested in the UCLA incident, just search “taser daily bruin” in Google.

  3. Okay, experts, you didn’t look at the official “Trademark and Copyright Use.” Here is a lengthy excerpt:

    “The ‘TASER’ trademark is properly used as follows: TASER® electronic control device

    […]

    The letters in ‘TASER’ should be block letters and always be capitalized whether used in the trademark or the name of the company. TASER is also an acronym for ‘Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle.’

    […]

    Always use a TASER trademark as an adjective, not a noun or verb.

    Incorrect: ‘The officer shot his taser’ or ‘I’m going to TASER you.’

    Correct: ‘The officer shot his TASER device’ or ‘I’m going to stop you with a TASER device.’

    Never pluralize a TASER trademark.

    Incorrect: TASERs or TASERS.

    Never render a TASER trademark possessive by use of an apostrophe.

    Incorrect: ‘the TASER’s battery pack.’

    However, it is proper to use the company name in the possessive sense when referring to TASER International.

    Correct: ‘TASER’s stock is traded on NASDAQ.’

    Do not misuse the name of the product. For example, incorrect: ‘AAcme Distribution offers the TASER.’

    Correct: ‘AAcme Distribution offers the TASER® X26 electronic control device.’

    Identify each TASER trademark with the proper trademark notice.

    The ® trademark notice, as in TASER® indicates that the mark is claimed as a registered trademark. The ‘TM’ trademark notice, for example ‘Shaped PulseTM technology’, indicates that the mark ‘Shaped Pulse’ is claimed as a trademark but not yet registered.”

    So maybe you need to register “The Grammar Vandal” before your competition does.

  4. Anonymous, thanks for researching that! I KNEW something was wrong with that article!

  5. Here’s a video of what happened. Looks completely unjustifyable to me – what were they even arresting him for in the first place?!

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=6bVa6jn4rpE

    Also, no need to justify using a Foxnews.com article – America’s highest rated, fair and balanced news network.

    Politics aside, it was an AP article.

  6. Anonymous’s input about Trademark and Copyright Use brings up an interesting point about turning brand names into common verbs. Everyone who says – or writes – “I photoshopped the picture to put my face next to the President’s!” is committing copyright infringement, according to Adobe, not to mention a grammatical error (it’s Photoshopped, not photoshopped – but you shouldn’t even be saying it, see below). They have a whole page of language on their website that tells you exactly how you can – and can’t – talk or write about their products. Here’s the part about Photoshop (TM):
    http://www.adobe.com/misc/trade.html#photoshop

  7. I like the AP’s definition of Taser more. According to the AP, Taser is not completely capitalized, as that company would prefer.

    “Trademark for an electronic control device or stun gun. (Acronym for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle.)”

    I think I’ll stick with the AP on this one.

  8. I think, in some cases, AP should defer to the company’s trademark wishes. If Taser is correct, why not Abc or Nasa?

  9. I just read this version of the story, and it has one of my pet peeves in journalism. I’m not sure it’s grammar, per se, but I figured you’d appreciate it.

    The second to last sentence reads, “Griscti said Meyer was resting and wouldn’t speak with reporters.” Nowhere earlier does the article mention who Griscti person is.

    I’m guessing the reporter mentioned him/her earlier, but the sentence got edited out. It’s still careless, and annoys me every time I see it.

  10. Bryan D. Catherman

    After watching the video (the link posted by another reader), I can’t figure out why the multiple officers (who had already demonstrated the ability to lift and move the guy) didn’t take him completely outside and away from the event. And given that the guy was down and appears to be under the control of the officers, what was the reason for the Taser? (If he wasn’t putting his arm in a location to be cuffed, I know they have ways of moving his arm for him, without the Taser.)

  11. Back to the grammar aspect, I always find it interesting when nouns turn into verbs. I am bringing this up because everyone freely uses the word “Tasered.”
    Another example these days is “Googled.”
    The one about “Photoshopping” was a good one as well.
    Then what we have is a capitalized verb. It looks awful.

  12. Thanks! Now I too know what the (insert expletive) Sky News was talking about last night. They had us scurrying for the OED. I’ll print and xerox the explanation and show the wife.

  13. BAnd Aid is also a product name and should also therefore be capitalised. tut tut

  14. Sara/Derek: “tasered” is a word.

    Kate: It isn’t necessary to capitalise “taser”.

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