Disclaimer: I will preface this post by stating that I am not a lawyer. The information below is my understanding from having worked with Net Promoter® for several years but is provided in good faith and with no warranty of any kind.
As more and more people hear about Net Promoter and NPS® a series of questions arise about the intellectual property related to using the approach:
- Can anyone use Net Promoter?
- Do you need a license to use the “would recommend” question?
- Do I have to pay to use NPS?
- Can only one, or a few companies, deliver Net Promoter data collection, analysis or other services?
To answer this question we need to go back into the development of the Net Promoter approach. In late 2003 Fred Reichheld published the original NPS paper in the Harvard Business Review. This paper was the result of research by Bain and Satmetrix, headed up by Fred and other colleagues from Bain.
In the paper the terms Net Promoter Score, NPS and Net Promoter were all published and the “would recommend” question was introduced.
Around the same time the terms Net Promoter Score, NPS and Net Promoter were registered as trademarks by Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.
Now to answer the questions:
Can anyone use Net Promoter?
Yes – Fred Reichheld has stated that NPS approach is an “open-source”.
This means that anyone can use the approach without the need to pay a license or other fees to any other organisations.
You also do not need to get permission from any person or organisation to start using the Net Promoter approach.
Do you need a license to use the “would recommend” question?
No — as noted above anyone can use this approach.
Do I have to pay to use NPS?
No — again as noted above there are no fees or licenses needed to use this approach.
Can only one, or a few companies, deliver Net Promoter data collection, analysis or other services?
Any organisation or person can deliver services in data collection, analysis or other areas around the Net Promoter approach. As it happens, Genroe is one such organisation and we deliver a range of Net Promoter services.
There are however, a couple of important areas to note when using and discussing the Net Promoter Score.
Ensure that you properly attribute the Registered Trademarks
Net Promoter Score, NPS and Net Promoter are all registered trademarks and when documenting work in this area you should properly attribute the ownership of the trademarks. The means using the ® mark and indicating ownership.
Because there are three owners of the trademarks the form of the attribution can be complex. The most used form is:
“Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score and NPS are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.”
You should use this attribution on documentation that you prepare for internal or external use.
Do not pretend or infer that you own any of the relevant registered trademarks
You should never say or infer that you own any of the noted trademarks, unless of course you do.
Do you have other questions about using this approach? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll be pleased to answer them.