Where should the tm symbols registered trademark ® or trademark ™  go?

Where should the tm symbols registered trademark ® or trademark ™ go?

  • 11 July, 2018
  • Bold Commerce Collaborator



The trademark symbol, either ™ or ®, appears after the trademark (when it is in use) in superscript (smaller, raised text). There are a couple of examples above, with the trademark in capitals and the trademark sign to the right of the word, right against it, and raised in superscript. This is the correct usage of the trademark sign, and the use is to put others on notice that the word is being used as a trademark.

The landscape of trademark law is adorned with various symbols, each carrying its own significance and legal implications. Among these, the "registered symbol" (®) and the "TM symbol" (™) stand out as pivotal markers used by businesses and individuals worldwide to denote the status and nature of their trademarks. Understanding the distinction between these two symbols, their appropriate usage, and their impact on trademark protection is essential for anyone navigating the complex terrain of intellectual property rights.

The TM Symbol

The TM symbol is used to signify that a particular word, phrase, logo, or combination thereof is being claimed as a trademark. This symbol can be used regardless of whether a trademark application has been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or any other country's trademark office. The primary purpose of the TM symbol is to assert rights over a trademark publicly, indicating that the trademark owner is claiming this mark as their own for the goods or services it covers. It serves as a deterrent to potential infringers and signifies the owner's intention to enforce its trademark rights, even though the mark may not yet be registered.

Employing the TM symbol is particularly useful for businesses in the early stages of building their brand identity. It allows them to establish a public claim to their chosen trademark while navigating the application process for registration. Moreover, the TM symbol has no legal significance in a courtroom in terms of proving validity or ownership of a trademark but plays a crucial role in the marketplace by signaling the owner's claim to the mark.

The Registered Symbol

Contrastingly, the "registered symbol" (®) is reserved for trademarks that have successfully undergone the registration process and have been officially recognized by the USPTO or the corresponding authority in another country. The usage of this symbol is a declaration that the trademark is not just claimed by the owner but has been vetted, approved, and entered into the official registry of trademarks. This carries significant legal weight, providing the trademark owner with exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the goods or services listed in the registration.

The advantages of achieving registered status for a trademark—and subsequently using the ® symbol—are manifold. Firstly, it offers the trademark owner a presumption of ownership and the exclusive right to use the mark nationwide in connection with the goods or services specified in the registration. This can be a powerful tool in legal disputes, as it places the burden of proof on the party challenging the trademark's validity. Additionally, the registered symbol serves as a strong deterrent to potential infringers, signaling that the trademark is fully protected under federal law and that the owner has the right to enforce it through legal action, including seeking damages for infringement.

Choosing Between TM and ®

The choice between using the TM symbol and the registered symbol boils down to the trademark's registration status. Before registration, the TM symbol is a valuable tool for establishing a brand's presence and asserting trademark rights. Once the trademark is registered, switching to the ® symbol is not just recommended; it's a legal requirement for maintaining the integrity of the trademark registration. Incorrectly using the registered symbol for a mark that is not officially registered can lead to legal complications and potentially undermine the credibility of the trademark claim.

Strategic Considerations

Strategically, the use of trademark symbols should be a key component of a brand's intellectual property strategy. For new brands, the TM symbol can be a critical part of establishing a market presence and protecting emerging trademarks. For established brands, the registered symbol is a testament to the brand's legal diligence and the robust protection of its intellectual assets. Additionally, the transition from TM to ® following registration is an important milestone in a brand's development, reflecting its growing stability and the strengthening of its legal defenses.

We can help you with a trademark application to move your trademark brand to registration, so you can also use the ® sign.


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