The purpose of registering a trademark is to avoid confusion among consumers. Before trademark law, companies could copy each other`s designs or create similar trademarks. This caused confusion because consumers did not know exactly which company was making a particular product. A service mark is similar to a trademark in that it is an ™ unregistered designation, but refers to services (as the name suggests) rather than a product or product. Blue Cross and Blue Shield, American Express and Planned Parenthood all use service marks as opposed to the trademark used on something like an unregistered apparel trademark ™. Five years after registering a trademark, the trademark becomes indisputable, which means that you have clear proof of your right to use that trademark. Undisputed trademarks provide better protection against counterfeiting and limit the defenses that can be made by a person who infringes the trademark. TM stands for trademark, although its use does not mean that the associated trademark is legally protected. Anyone can use TM for a symbol, phrase, word, or drawing. It shows competitors that the company using it claims that particular design. Many companies also use it on their trademarks when processing the trademark application with the USPTO. In this case, it means that the trademark is registered. What works best for your brand and the legal requirements required by your region requires specific expert advice, but the following points will hopefully give you food for thought! Using the TM symbol in the case of unregistered trademarks can also mean to the general public (and potential infringers) that you have the legal aspects of protecting your trademark in mind.

This can have a chilling effect on violations in some cases. It should also be kept in mind that by creating a brand, you are creating an intangible but tangible asset of your business. For potential investors, this can be a critical factor in the decision-making process. While an unregistered brand name may have some value, it is not comparable to the financial potential of a trademark. Confusion about the different elements of the marks abounds. Questions such as whether you can use a particular mark and whether you need to file a trademark application are common. One area of confusion lies in the TM and R symbols, what they represent and why and when you should use them. Companies that have invested money in their company`s branding should protect it as an asset for the company. It is generally accepted to place it in the upper left corner of the brand in superscript. If it doesn`t look good there, you can drop it into the subscript text in the bottom right corner.

But placing it elsewhere is rare. The “R” in the circle stands for “recorded.” The “R” and the circle together form the symbol for the registration of the federal mark. In commerce, the symbol indicates that your company officially owns its trademark according to U.S. Patent and Commerce (pto.gov) standards. A brand is your official brand. It is a symbol, design, graphic, word or slogan that distinguishes your business from its competitors. Even a sound or color can represent your brand. A trademark is a name, symbol or trademark that distinguishes a product or brand from other products or brands. In a broader sense, it can also be used to describe something characteristic of a person or thing in a more metaphorical way, such as “the characteristic rhythm of the singer”. The word trademark, first registered in the mid-1500s, is literally the trademark (as a name or logo) belonging to a company (trade). The TM symbol next to a trademark is intended to draw the public`s attention to the fact that the owner considers that particular mark to be protected. In other words, the owner claims rights to that trademark even if no trademark application has been filed.

As explained below, an R circle symbol can only be used if a trademark is registered. So what`s wrong with each and what sets them apart from each other? Let`s decipher the soup of symbols. Not all trademarks are protectable, and the fact that a company has placed a TM symbol next to a term or slogan does not necessarily mean that it has the right to discourage others from using the term. Nevertheless, it is useful to know where a competitor is coming from when you see the TM symbol next to an unregistered trademark. If you`re considering using or registering a similar trademark, consider doing so unless you have a strong case for fair use of the term. Using the TM symbol in cases where you don`t want or can`t get registration can be a strategic decision. If, for example, your trademark or mark is not registrable because of its descriptive nature, consistent use of the mark may eventually give you a distinctive character that could allow registration. In this case, by using the TM symbol next to the trademark for a period of time, you may be able to illustrate that you have used that trademark as a trademark for an extended period of time – and that it has become recognizable in the marketplace as a unique identifier for your business. If a trademark contains the symbol (R), it means that it has a trademark approved by the USPTO. You cannot legally use the registered symbol until your application has been approved. In many cases, trademarks and service marks apply.

American Express is a brand name with a brand logo, but the company also offers a service. For this reason, service marks are often grouped with general brand conversations. Use of the superscript mark could mean that the claimed product is currently registered for a state-registered trademark (more on this shortly). It could also mean that the person using it considers the unregistered product to be unique. Even things that are denied state protection as a trademark can continue to use the ™ symbol. Trademark protection is valid for 10 years and can be renewed thereafter. If a person or company uses the registered name, logo or symbol without the prior permission of the person who owns the trademark, they can be sued for trademark infringement. For example: A street basketball group that uses the NBA`s red, white and blue logo without letting it be handled by the league`s owners and lawyers could be sued. So, before you add TM to the end of your tag, do your research. You must ensure that a similar mark does not yet exist in the electronic trademark search system. If you find something similar, the next step is to make changes to your brand so it doesn`t get hurt.

Our clients often ask us to educate them on what is involved in the branding process when they start their brand development. We are not lawyers (our lawyers have told us so), so it is important to seek advice from an intellectual property (IP) lawyer who specializes in patents and trademarks when naming your business and protecting your brand identity. This can be complicated. Since Trillion designs logos that become trademarks, we will do our best to familiarize you with the basics. Some core laws protect businesses, including common law marks. These rights offer protection if you have used the trademark in normal business practices. But it`s almost impossible to prove who used a trademark first, especially when neither company filed a trademark application. What`s worse is that if the competitor files its application first, the USPTO considers the filing date to be the most important piece of information in deciding who gets the mark. Trademarks are often claimed with the superscript character (a character written above the line, as opposed to a subscript character written below the ™ line). You can find this little floating icon almost everywhere, from grocery aisles to TV shows to ironic Instagram captions. From a commercial point of view, it is used to show that the person who manufactured and marketed a product or good distinguishes it from others.

There is only one catch: ™ it does not necessarily mean that the product or merchandise is in fact a unique registered product. The cost of registering a trademark ranges from less than $500 for a DIY enthusiast to $1,200 and up to an intellectual property lawyer to help you through the process. Registration costs and fees can become even higher if you are turned away by the USPTO or another company that wants to challenge your use of the mark. We needed intellectual property lawyers to negotiate terms with a non-competing company when the trademarks fall under the same brand classification to obtain the coveted ® classification. As a negotiating tactic, paying the legal fees of the non-competing company is a gesture of good faith and probably much more profitable than coming up with another name. © , TM and (R) are commonly used abbreviations – but what do they mean? This ® also has a lot more restrictions on who can use the symbol. It can only be used by officially registered and approved persons.