The ® Registered Trademark Symbol
Once a trademark is federally registered with the USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office), the coveted ® symbol can be used. While use of the ® symbol is not required, it is highly recommend. Using the ® symbol lends credibility to a registered mark. Additionally, it puts potential infringers on notice of the trademark owner’s rights and makes it easier for the trademark owner to collect certain damages in the event someone infringes these rights.
The TM and SM symbols can be used with an unregistered trademark or service mark to inform the public that a word mark, logo, or design mark is being used as a trademark and that the owner of the mark claims rights to it. Using either of these symbols gives notice that the mark owner is intentionally establishing ‘common law trademark rights’ in the mark. For example: MY TRADEMARK ™ or MY SERVICE MARK ℠ (For more information on how to use the TM or SM symbols click here).
The © Copyright Symbol
Another familiar symbol is the copyright symbol. Using the © symbol is an easy way to notify the world that copyright exists in your original, creative work. While it’s not required by law to use the © to establish copyright in a photograph, piece of music or other original work, it’s simple to do and could save you a lot of headache down the road. Use of the the © copyright symbol does not require permission from, or registration with the US Copyright Office. (For more information on how to write a © copyright notice click here).
Many creative works may contain both a trademark symbol and a copyright notice. A website, for example, will often contain the website owner’s trademark (registered or unregistered) and a copyright notice. A novel may have the publisher’s registered trademark and the author’s copyright notice on it.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
See also: USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office) resources at www.uspto.gov; www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/register.jsp; and www.uspto.gov/faq/trademarks.jsp#_Toc275426682 ; US Copyright Office Circular 3 on Copyright Notice at www.copyright.gov/circs/circ03.pdf; US Copyright Office Circular 1 on Copyright Basics at www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.