The TM and circled “R” (®) symbols both refer to trademark rights and both warn others that you are protecting your logo, but ® and ™ mean different things.
The ® symbol, standing for “registered” mark, is authorized by federal statutory law and may be used only in situations where a mark is actually registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The registration must have already been approved; the use of the ® symbol while a trademark application is still pending is considered improper use of the symbol and may cause an application for registration to be denied.
On the other hand, the TM symbol makes a statement that the user is merely claiming rights to the ownership of the mark. It does not necessarily mean that the user has trademark rights, but is claiming them.
A third symbol, SM, stands for “Service Mark.” It is similar to the TM symbol in that it does not designate that a mark has been registered, but means that the user is claiming rights to ownership of a mark. (A “service mark” is essentially a mark that refers to a service as opposed to a product.)
In summary, as to which symbol you should use to protect your own mark:
- Use the ® if – and only if – your application to the USPTO was approved and your mark is registered.
- Use the TM or SM symbol if your mark is not registered but you want to protect your brand.
If you are interested in learning more about how to protect your brand, such as by registering a trademark, feel free to contact Cynthia Conlin, P.A. at 407-965-5519 or use the email form on our Contact page.