Trademark Symbols and Their Usages | TM-™, R-® & C-© Symbols

Trademark Symbols

Trademark symbols are a common sight in the business world, representi9mg the detective identities of brands and their products or services. These symbols play a crucial role in marketing and are protected under trademark law. This comprehensive guide will explore the various trademark symbols and their significance in establishing and protecting your brand.

Understanding Trademark Symbols, TM, SM and ®

Three primary symbols are used regarding trademarks: TM, SM, and ®. These symbols convey important information about a trademark’s registrations and protection status.

  1. TM Symbol: The TM symbol stands for “trademark” and indicates that a word, phrase or Symbol is being used as a trademark, even if it hasn’t been registered with the United States Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO). It is commonly used for goods, such as products or merchandise.
  2. SM Symbol: The SM symbol represents a “service mark” and indicates that a word, phrase or Symbol is used as a service mark, which identifies services rather than physical products. Similar to the TM symbol, it can be used to claim rights to an unregistered service mark.
  3. ® Symbol: The ® Symbol signifies a federally registered trademark. It is only used for trademarks officially registered with the USPTO. The Symbol indicates that the trademark is protected by federal law and carries exclusive rights for its designated goods or services. Unauthorized use of the _ symbol is prohibited and can lead to legal consequences.
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The Importance of Registering Your Trademark

Registering your trademark with the USPTO provides numerous benefits and more robust legal protections. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Exclusive Rights: Registering your trademark grants you exclusive nationwide rights to use the mark for the designated goods or services, allowing you to prevent others from using a similar mark.
  2. Lawsuit Protection: Federal registration allows filing a lawsuit against infringers in federal court, seeking damages and an injunction to stop unauthorized use.
  3. International Protection: A U.S. trademark registration can serve as a basis for obtaining international trademark registration and protecting your mark globally.
  4. Cyber world Protection: Federal Registration offers protection against cybersquatting, where individuals attempt to profit from domain names similar to well-known trademarks. The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act allows trademark owners to take legal action against cybersquatters.

Choosing between Federal Registration and Common law Registration

  1. Federal Registration: Registering your trademark with the USPTO1 provides stronger legal protection, especially for businesses engaged in interstate commerce. It offers nationwide coverage and the ability to sue infringers in federal court.
  2. Common law Trademarks: If you choose not to register your trademark, you can still establish common law trademark rights. Using the ™ Symbol for goods or the SM symbol or services indicates your claim to the mark. However, common law protection is limited to specific geographical areas and may not provide the same legal protection as federal registrations.

How to Trademark a Distinctive Sign

  1. Conduct a Trademark Search: Perform a search using the USPTO’s TESS to check if a similar mark has already been registered for similar goods or services.
  2. Complete the Application: Fill out the appropriate trademark application based on your business-specific goods and services. The USPTO reviews applications and determines if they meet the requirements for federal registration.
  3. Proper usage of Trademark Symbols: Use the ™ or SM symbol to indicate your claims to the mark during application. Once your official trademark is registered, you can use the ® Symbol to signify federal registration.
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Can I use the TM or SM Symbol if I have applied for trademark registration but it is still pending?

You can use the TM symbol for goods or the SM symbol for services while your trademark application is pending. These symbols indicate your claim to the mark even though it has yet to be officially registered.

Do I need to use trademark symbols when mentioning my brand name or logo?

Using trademark symbols whenever you mention your brand name or logo is unnecessary. However, it is a good practice to use them on prominent or initial appearances to indicate your trademark rights and protect your brand identity.

Can I trademark a slogan or a tagline?

Yes, slogans or taglines can be eligible for trademark protection if they meet distinctiveness requirements and are used to distinguish your goods or services from others in the marketplace. Conduct a thorough trademark search to ensure your slogan is unique and eligible for registration.

Can I use the ® Symbol for state-level trademark registration?

No, the ® Symbol is specifically used to denote federal trademark registration. State-level trademark registrations do not qualify for the ® Symbol. Instead, you can use the appropriate state-specific Symbol or notation if available.



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