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Trademark Symbols: What You Need To Know

trademark symbolsThere’s a lot of confusion as to when to use trademark symbols — and which symbol to use for a particular mark. Here’s a brief overview of the role of each symbol in protecting your brands for goods and services.

TM – Trademark Symbols

If you have a mark to brand goods that’s not been federally registered, a superscripted “TM” is typically attached to the mark to assert you’re using it as a common law trademark.

SM – Service Mark Symbols

Like trademarks for goods, you can use a mark to brand services. A superscripted “SM” is typically attached to the mark to claim it as a common law service mark if the mark has not be federally registered.

Related Article: How A Trademark Lawyer Can Help You Protect Your Brand

® – Registered Trademarks and Service Marks

If you register your trademark or service mark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), the registration lets you attach an “R” within a circle to let others know it’s a registered mark.

There are three important things to note about federally registered marks:

(1) many marks do not qualify for registration;

(2) your mark has additional legal protections if it is registered; and

(3) once registered, there are additional maintenance documents you’ll need to file with the USPTO to keep your federal registration. Otherwise, it will lapse.

State Registrations

Many states (including Texas) have a registration system for trademarks and service marks.

However, state registration does not offer the same level of protection as federal registration with the USPTO.

And state registration does not change the type of trademark symbols you can use. This means you cannot use the ® symbol because of a state registration…that’s only for federal registrations.

Where To Get Legal Help With Trademarks And Service Marks

Registered Patent Attorney Herbert Joe helps clients with trademarks and service marks. If you have patent or copyright intellectual property issues, he can help you with those too. Just book a phone consultation now to speak with him using our online scheduling system.

Mike Young, Esq.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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