It is important to protect your brand name, logo, slogan, or any other distinctive mark that identifies your products or services, from being copied or misused by others. One way to do that is to use trademark symbols, such as ™, ®, and ℠, to indicate your ownership and rights over your mark.
But what do these symbols mean and how do you use them correctly? In this blog post, we’ll explain the basics of trademark symbols, their benefits, and some common mistakes to avoid when using them.
What are trademark symbols?
Trademark symbols are small signs that are usually placed next to a mark to show that it is a trademark. A trademark is a name, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes a product or service from others in the market. Trademarks help consumers identify the source and quality of the goods or services they buy.
There are three main trademark symbols that are commonly used:
TM (the “trademark symbol”) – This symbol is used for an unregistered trademark, which means a mark that is not officially registered with the government but is still claimed by the owner as a trademark. You can use this symbol for any mark that you use or intend to use to promote or brand your goods, regardless of whether you have applied for registration or not.
® (the “registered trademark symbol”) – This symbol is used for a registered trademark, which means a mark that is officially registered with the government and has legal protection. You can only use this symbol after you have successfully obtained a trademark registration from the relevant authority, such as the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the United States.
SM (the “service mark symbol”) – This symbol is used for an unregistered service mark, which means a mark that is not officially registered with the government but is still claimed by the owner as a service mark. A service mark is similar to a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes a service rather than a product. You can use this symbol for any mark that you use or intend to use to promote or brand your services, regardless of whether you have applied for registration or not. A quick note on service marks, you can also use TM for your service marks (but you should not use SM for goods).
What are the benefits of using trademark symbols?
Using trademark symbols can have several benefits for your brand and business, such as:
Showing your ownership and rights over your mark – By using trademark symbols, you can signal to others that you own and control your mark and that you have the right to prevent others from using it without your permission. This can help deter potential infringers and competitors from copying or confusing your mark with theirs.
Building trust and recognition among consumers – By using trademark symbols, you can also communicate to consumers that your mark is unique and reliable and that it represents the quality and reputation of your products or services. This can help increase consumer confidence and loyalty towards your brand and business.
Enhancing your marketing and branding efforts – By using trademark symbols, you can also highlight and emphasize your mark as a distinctive feature of your brand identity and image. This can help increase your visibility and awareness among your target audience and differentiate yourself from others in the market.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when using trademark symbols?
While using trademark symbols can be beneficial for your brand and business, there are also some common mistakes that you should avoid when using them, such as:
Using the wrong symbol for your mark – As we mentioned earlier, there are different symbols for different types of marks and registration statuses. You should make sure that you use the appropriate symbol for your mark depending on whether it is registered or unregistered, and whether it identifies a product or a service. For example, if you have a registered trademark for a product name, you should use the ® symbol next to it. If you have an unregistered service mark for a slogan, you should use the SM or TM symbol next to it. If your unregistered mark is only for a good or product, then you should only use the TM symbol.
Using the symbols before obtaining registration – If you have applied for trademark registration but have not yet received it, you should not use the ® symbol next to your mark. Doing so can be considered as false or misleading advertising and can result in legal consequences. Instead, you should use the TM or SM symbol until you receive your registration certificate.
Using the symbols inconsistently or incorrectly – You should also make sure that you use the trademark symbols consistently and correctly throughout your marketing materials and communications. For example, you should place the symbol immediately after your mark in superscript, without any spaces or punctuation marks. You should also use the symbol every time you mention your mark in a prominent or significant way, such as in headlines, titles, logos, labels, or slogans. However, you don’t need to use the symbol every time you mention your mark in a descriptive or incidental way, such as in body text, paragraphs, or sentences.
Trademark symbols are useful tools that can help you protect and promote your brand and business. By using them correctly and appropriately, you can show your ownership and rights over your mark, build trust and recognition among consumers, and enhance your marketing and branding efforts. However, you should also avoid some common mistakes that can undermine your credibility and expose you to legal risks. We hope this blog post has helped you understand how to use trademark symbols correctly and avoid common mistakes. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.