What Do the TM Symbol and ® Mean?

What Do the TM Symbol and ® Mean?

Most people probably see a trademark used in combination with the TM symbol or the ® symbol almost every day.  But unless you have a business where you are consciously using trademarks, you may not know exactly what they mean.  And even if you are using trademarks, you may not know exactly how these symbols should be used.  In today’s post, I want to answer your questions about the various trademark symbols.

First, I want to talk about what these symbols have in common, which is their purpose.  The purpose of both symbols is to give notice to others that the mark they are used with is a trademark.  However, it is important to remember that just because someone is using a trademark symbol, it does not necessarily mean that they have the trademark rights that they are claiming.  They may be using the wrong symbol, or they may be claiming rights that are not valid under trademark law.  Now that you know why trademark symbols are used, let’s look at the TM and ® to see how they are different.

The TM symbol can be used to put others on notice that a mark is owned by a business, individual, or other organization.  Use this symbol if there is not a federal registration for the mark.  You do not have to use this symbol to have rights to a particular mark.  However, the idea is that putting others on notice of your trademark rights will deter them from adopting and using an identical or similar mark.  There is also a SM symbol that denotes service marks (marks used in connection with services, instead of goods).  But you rarely see this, because the TM can be still be used with service marks.  When using the TM symbol, you want to put the TM either to the bottom-right of your mark (subscript), or upper-right (superscript).  To summarize, you can (but do not have to) use the TM symbol to claim rights to your unregistered trademark.

Once you obtain a trademark registration, you will want to use the ® symbol with your mark.  This symbol tells others that not only are you claiming trademark rights, but that you have obtained a federal registration for your trademark.  Use of the ® symbol gives the owner easier access to monetary damages in the case of a trademark infringement suit.  That is the main reason that you would want to use it over the TM symbol after registration.  However, the ® symbol should only be used with the trademark in connection with the goods and services listed in the trademark registration.  Like the TM symbol, it should also be placed either at the bottom-right, or upper-right of a registered trademark.

Do You Need Help Turning Your TM Symbol Into a ® Symbol?

If you would like to obtain a federal trademark registration, or if you have questions about whether you should use a trademark symbol, please feel free to call me at (314) 479-3668, email me at kevin@yourtrademarkattorney.com, or complete the contact form found on this page to schedule your free initial consultation today.  I look forward to speaking with you.