Trademark Symbol ™ vs Registered Trademark ®

You’ve probably seen the trademark symbol before – – it’s that superscripted or subscripted “TM” (or “SM”) you see to the right of a brand name or logo. However, you’ve also probably seen the registered trademark symbol as well – – that’s the “R” enclosed in a circle (®). But do you know the difference?

The difference between the trademark symbol, ™, and the registered trademark symbol, ®, is simple. The trademark symbol, ™, is used to put the world on notice that a company or individual is claiming common law rights to use a product or service name, logo, slogan or packaging. However, the registered trademark symbol, ®, can only be used when a company or individual has received Federal trademark registration status with the United States Trademark & Patent Office (USPTO).

In order to use and enforce your trademark rights throughout the United States, you must first register your trademark with the United States Trademark & Patent Office (USPTO). Once you have received registration status from the USPTO, then and only then can you use the ® symbol. In fact, it’s illegal to use a ® without first registering your brand with the USPTO.

If you have a product or service, slogan, logo or other type of branding that you would like to have the legal rights to protect, you might want to add the trademark, ™ (or service mark) symbol now and then contact a trademark attorney to help you file for Federal trademark registration so that you can legally protect your trademark rights.

This post is brought to you the good folks at WINTER LLP, servicing the trademark and corporate needs of those throughout Orange County, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Contact us at (949) 999-2058 or through our website to file your trademark application today.

WINTER LLP® is a corporate, transactional, regulatory and intellectual property law firm focused on traditional and emerging markets, with offices in Orange County, San Francisco, and Arizona, servicing clients around the world.

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