What is the difference between ®, ™, and (sm)
A ® symbol stands for “Registered” and means that the mark has been registered with the United States Federal Government’s – specifically the USPTO. It is acceptable to write this symbol simply as (R).
A ™ stands for Trademark. This symbol means that you are making a claim to the general public that this is your trademark – even though you have not officially registered it. It is acceptable to write this symbol simply as (TM). There is no difference between a trademark (TM) and a Service Mark (SM).
A sm stands for Service Mark. This symbol means that you are making a claim to the general public that this is your trademark – even though you have not officially registered it. It is acceptable to write this symbol simply as (SM). The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.
Common Questions about Trademarks
Should I register my mark?
Is registration of my mark required?
No. You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark. However, owning a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages, e.g.,
constructive notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark;
- a legal presumption of the registrant’s ownership of the mark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
- the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
- the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and
- the ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.
When can I use the trademark symbols TM, SM and ®?
Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the “TM” (trademark) or “SM” (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO. However, you may use the federal registration symbol “®” only after the USPTO actually registers a mark , and not while an application is pending. Also, you may use the registration symbol with the mark only on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the federal trademark registration.
Top 3 Trademark Mistakes
1. I own the domain name, so I own the trademark.
Registering your brand’s domain name (.com,.biz,.info) does not mean that you have acquired or own any trademark rights. Trademark rights arise from actual use, therefore, the mere registration of a domain name, does not secure trademark rights. Additionally, it is important to register your mark with the USPTO. In fact, owners of federally-registered trademarks, may be able to acquire their domain names from others in certain circumstances.
2. I incorporated the business name with the state, so I own the trademark.
Merely registering the business name as a coporation, LLC or any other entity with the state does not mean you have acquired or own any trademark rights in the mark. Trademark rights arise from use therefore, the mere incorporation of a business, without use, does not suffice to secure trademark rights.
3. My trademark covers all goods and services.
Trademark registration and protection is divided into classes of goods and services. Owning a trademark registration in one class of goods or services does not necessarily mean you can enforce it against someone using it in another class of goods or services. Another’s use of the mark may infringe if it would be likely to cause confusion.
When applying for a trademark to protect your company’s brand an important consideration is the depiction of your mark on the trademark application. The two possible mark formats are the standard character format which includes the word(s) alone or the stylized or design format.
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