A Primer on the Use of BCG Trademarks
- Newsletter of the BCG
Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG, “A Primer on the Use of BCG
Trademarks,” OnBoard 17 (May 2011): 9–10.
Proper use of our trademarks and service marks is a
matter of critical importance for all BCG associates.
Correct use of our credentials protects them legally. At the
same time, vigilance against unauthorized use of our marks
helps protect us. The assistance of all associates in these
matters is essential. Editorial misuse of our marks by a few
affects everyone, just as substandard work produced by a
non-associate using one of our marks can undermine our
collective and individual reputations.
BCG currently uses several marks. Our name—Board for
Certification of Genealogists—is a registered trademark. Our
credentials—CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified
Genealogical Lecturer—are service marks.
The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both
trademarks and service marks. However, a service mark is a word,
phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the
source of services rather than goods. Use of the designations SM
(service mark) or the ® (Registration) symbol is not legally
required, but the proper use of these designations is strongly
encouraged as a means of notifying the public of our
intellectual property rights in our marks. If a mark is not
registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the
trademark owner may not legally use the ® symbol in connection
with the mark.
Distinguishing our marks from generic or descriptive terms
will help protect their status. Therefore, associates are
requested to observe the following rules when using them:
- BCG service marks should not be used in the plural.
- The initial letters of our service marks should be capitalized.
- The first use of the mark (in a letter, website, report, etc.)
should be followed by the superscript SM or SM in parentheses.
If several such references appear in a longer work, the
following statement in the front matter or publication data may
be used instead: “Certified Genealogist and CG are proprietary
service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists,
whose name is a registered trademark.”
- The service marks
should not be used as freestanding nouns. Preceding a mark with
the article “a” or “the” would be an inappropriate descriptive
or generic use.
As BCG General Counsel Donn Devine, CG, CGL,
has aptly put it, “When a generic, descriptive, or plural
reference is intended, consider terms like board-certified
genealogist(s), BCG-certified associate, or board
certificant(s), rather than one of the distinctive marks.”
Except as noted above, there is no precisely prescribed wording
to describe BCG’s marks in a signature block, reference note, or
otherwise. Nevertheless, the following discussion provides
guidance about acceptable practices and uses.
Use in Text or Speech
It is not proper usage to state, “I am a [BCG service
mark],” as that is a generic usage. On the other hand, it is
proper usage to state, “I am Certified Genealogist John Doe,” “I
am Jane Doe, Certified Genealogist,” or “I hold a Certified
Use in Stationery
Examples of proper listing of credentials in letterhead:
Jane Doe, CGSM, CGLSM
When we use
the superscript SM, it is not necessary to provide any further
notice of who owns the marks. If an associate prefers to not use
the superscript abbreviations, they may be omitted as long as an
appropriate notice is placed in a footer on the page when the
postnominal first appears. The following notices are examples of
“Certified Genealogist” is a service mark
of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under
license by authorized associates following peer-reviewed
competency evaluations. Certificate No. XX, renewed, expires 1
CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified
Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for
Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board
certificants after periodic evaluation, and the board name is
registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer
are service marks of the Board for Certification of
Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after
Note that when the ® symbol is used, the
phrase “and the board name is registered in the U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office” is not required as this would be redundant.
Use in E-Mail and Websites
When your e-mail program and
website support superscript and symbols, the same rules apply as
with stationery. However, when your e-mail program and website
do not support superscript and symbols, the following practices
- Instead of superscripting the SM, place it
in parentheses, as in (SM).
- Instead of placing the symbol
® after BCG’s name, substitute (R) or the phrase “and the board
name is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.”
Use by Editors
Where a single publication may contain
references to credentials conferred by several organizations,
BCG suggests a notice like the following be included in the
front matter, acknowledging intellectual property rights in
credential designations of each body:
Credentials: CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified
Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for
Certification of Genealogists®. Accredited Genealogist and AG
are certification marks of the International Commission for
Accreditation of Professional Genealogists. Individuals are
licensed to use the credential designations after meeting the
competency standards of those organizations. FASG identifies
fellows of the American Society of Genealogists, an honorary
society limited to fifty living members chosen for the quality
of their published genealogical scholarship. Fellowship in other
societies awarded on the basis of scholarship, rather than
service or support to the society, may also be recognized by a
postnominal designation incorporating the society’s initials.
In cases where only BCG-credentialed individuals are cited, the
notice may be shortened as follows:
Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are
service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®,
used under license by board certificants after periodic
The proper use of our credentials by board
certificants will strengthen our marks and reduce the workload
of our team that polices the proper use by our certificants and
Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG
This article was originally published in OnBoard, BCG’s educational newsletter and is protected by copyright. Individuals may download and print copies for their personal study. Educators are granted permission to provide copies to their students as long as BCG, OnBoard, and the appropriate author are credited as the source of the material. Republication elsewhere is not permitted.