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When should I use the circle R (®), the little capital TM (™), and the little capital SM (℠)?

These symbols are all used to indicate that a word, phrase, symbol, or design is being used as a trademark to identify the source of a product or service. Although it is not required that you use these symbols in order to claim trademark rights, using these symbols can help to give notice to others that you are claiming trademark rights in a particular word, phrase, symbol, or design. Importantly, they each have different meanings and should only be used when appropriate.


The R® symbol stands for "registered trademark." It indicates that a particular mark has gone through the process of being registered with the USPTO, that the owner has received a Certificate of Registration and has legal rights to the trademark. You cannot use the R® symbol unless your mark is officially registered.


The TM ™ symbol can be used to indicate that you are claiming trademark rights in a word, phrase, symbol, or design, even if you have not yet registered your trademark with the appropriate trademark office. The TM™ symbol can be used for trademarks that are used in commerce, as well as trademarks that are not yet registered. The TM™ symbol is customarily used to indicate trademarks that are being used in connection with goods, rather than services.


Likewise, the SM℠ symbol stands for "service mark." A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that is used to identify and distinguish the services of one person or organization from those of others. Service marks are similar to trademarks, but they are used to identify services rather than products. Like the TM™ symbol, the ℠ symbol can be used to indicate that you are claiming service mark rights in a word, phrase, symbol, or design, even if you have not yet registered your service mark with the appropriate trademark office.



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