If you own a business, nonprofit, product or offer a service, it is important for you to understand how to use trademark symbols. There are three primary trademark symbols that we will discuss in this article: (TM), (SM), or ®
When can you use the ® symbol?
If your application to register a federal trademark for your logo or company name has been approved by the United States Patent & Trademark Office, then you are legally permitted to move forward with using the ® symbol in association with your logo, slogan or company name.
The ® symbol means that the trademark is a registered trademark with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).
When should trademark symbols be used?
In addition to the ® symbol, common trademark symbols include the (TM) or (SM) symbol. These symbols are both often used in association with trademarks (slogan, logo or company name). When you utilize the (TM) or (SM), you are telling the general public that you have the right to use the trademark. The purpose of you using these symbols is to prevent others from using your trademark without your permission. If you desire to use the (TM) or (SM) symbol, you do not have to have a registered federal trademark in order to use them.
However, there are serious risks involved with using these symbols when you have not applied and received a registered trademark. In essence, competitors and other industry players often know that these symbols do not signify that your trademark is registered with the federal government. As a result, using the symbols prior to registering may result in these competitors researching your mark only to discover that you have not filed a federal trademark application to register your trademark.
You see, the law gives certain benefits to owners of registered trademarks versus individuals that are simply using trademarks that have not been registered and are using the (TM) or (SM) symbol. These benefits include being able to sue infringers (people that use your trademark without permission) in federal court as well as being able to sue for additional money damages. These benefits, among others, are not afforded to people or organizations that have not registered their trademarks with the federal government.
How should people use trademark symbols?
Now that you are familiar with the most common trademark symbols, including the (TM), (SM), or ®, it is important to know exactly how and when you should incorporate trademark symbols in association with your trademarks. The best way to use the trademark symbols is to position them in superscript in the upper right-hand corner of your company name, logo or slogan.
If you have any other questions regarding trademark symbols or the use of such symbols, feel free to schedule a free consultation with our trademark attorney in Orlando. Although our law firm is based in Orlando, we provide federal trademark services for clients nationwide. Contact us today!