How to Correctly Use Trademark Symbols

by Trademark Garden | May 8, 2018

Now that you’ve gone through the trademark process, how are you supposed to correctly use trademark symbols so you are protected? It can be a little confusing, which is why we’ve broken it down so it’s easy to understand.

How To Use the ™ Symbol

The ™ symbol provides the notice of a claim for common-law rights in a trademark. It is generally connected with an unregistered mark. It helps people to know that a term, slogan, logo, or other indicator has trademark protection. Using the ™ symbol doesn’t guarantee that mark will be protected under trademark laws. If the mark’s registration doesn’t go through, the owner of the mark can still use the ™ symbol to claim common-law rights for the trademark. The TM symbol is used physical and digital goods, so anything from clothing to downloadable software programs.

How To Use the SM Symbol

Similar to the ™ symbol, the SM symbol is used to provide a claim of common-law rights in connection with a service mark. The SM symbol is used for services, so anything from restaurant services to financial advising. If you have an instance where the goods and services are being offered, you can use the ™ symbol instead. That said, don’t worry too much about the difference between TM and SM, as a court is very likely to consider TM a valid symbol for purposes of a common law claim, even if the mark is technically a service mark.

How To Use the ® Symbol

Using the ® symbol lets people know your mark has been registered with the USPTO, or the intellectual property office of another country, and that you legally own the mark in the countries of registration. In the United States, using the ® symbol can only be used after the mark has been registered, if your application is still pending, you may not use the ® symbol.

Trademark Symbol Etiquette

While there is no official way to use the trademark symbols, most people place them in the upper right corner, or level with the mark itself, using a superscript. Although is not strictly necessary that you use a trademark symbol to identify your trademarks, it is recommended, as proper use of TM and SM can help establish your common law rights, and proper use of ® can help you establish that infringers knew or should have known that the trademark is registered by you, which strengthens your ability to fight them effectively.

Once you understand when you can use trademark symbols correctly, you’ll be able to utilize them in your business. Using these symbols protects you and your trademarks. If you have questions about using trademark symbols, Trademark Garden can help clear things up. Contact us today and get the help you need.

Our experts can help get you a trademark registration or copyright registration.

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