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How to use the ® and TM Symbol

Emily Genevish

I am a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, and a Marine Corps Wife. I founded my design studio upon graduating at the top of my class with a BFA in Digital Design in 2006. Originally from Tampa, Florida, I have been building my business from scratch, across three states. I have built an extensive portfolio of work and serve clientele worldwide. With my company's humble beginnings in Long Island, New York it has since traveled to around the U.S., following the path of my husband who serves in the U.S. Marine Corps. I offer services in my current local community as well as clients around the world to make professional design affordable!

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Article Courtesy of Andrew P. Lahser

Choosing which symbol to use: ™ or ® symbol

There are two symbols commonly used to mark trademarks, they are: ® and ™.
Your business can use the ™ symbol whenever it wishes to claim a trademark. You do not need to file any paperwork or receive permission to use the ™ symbol. Use of the ™ symbol can put the competition on notice that the business considers a mark its trademark.
The ® symbol may ONLY be used AFTER the US Government grants a Federal registration certificate. The ® symbol may not be used while the Federal application is pending. Additionally, the ® symbol may only be used in connection with the goods and services listed on the registration certificate.
Understanding TM symbol purpose: Notify competitors

Even though a trademark symbol is not required, always use the correct trademark symbol with your trademark. Your competitors will be put on notice of your trademark. Then they can respect your intellectual property. Likewise, you can prevent your customers from becoming confused by always respecting the trademarks of others, whether they use the ® or ™ symbol.

Placing the ™ or ® symbol

When using your trademark, place it prominently, so people will notice it immediately. When using your trademark in printed text, use bold, italic, UPPERCASE, or a different font. Make your trademark look different from other, surrounding words. Try to use your trademark as an adjective and not as a noun. For example, “Be hip, show style, wear NIKE® shoes”.
Either symbol is usually placed to the upper right of the word, logo or other mark. Sometimes companies list the trademarks used in the material along with the owner in the footer of their website or the bottom of a printed page. For example, “Coca-Cola® and the contour bottle are registered trademarks of The Coca-Cola Company.” Remember, do not claim that your trademark is registered (or use the ® symbol) unless it is actually completed registered with the US Trademark office (www.uspto.gov). Only marks that have been filed, approved and granted the ribbon-original registration certificate by the US Trademark Office may claim to be registered in the US.
However, placement in other nearby or adjacent areas, like sub-scripted, may work well and could look better. The goal is for competitors to see the notification of your trademark claim.
Three ™ or ® placement techniques

There are usually three good ways to notify competitors. They are:

  1. Placement of the ™ or ® symbol right near the trademark, every time it is used.
  2. Placement of ™ or ® or * (asterisk) or † or (dagger) or ‡ (double dagger) symbol right near the trademark, the first time it is used and having a footnote that describes the trademarks.
  3. Setting of all trademark words with bold, italic, UPPERCASE, or a different font, so they are clearly different and providing a footnote that describes the trademarks.

A footnote description might read like this for federally registered marks, when the most prominent use of the trademark is marked with a dagger.
† NIKE and the swoosh logo are registered trademarks of Nike Inc.
Or a footnote description might read like this for marks not federally registered, and, when the trademark is set off from other words with bold and UPPERCASE.
NIKE and the swoosh logo are trademarks of Nike Inc.
Inserting the ® or ™ symbol into your document

Your word processor has an “insert symbol” function or “Special Character” function in the Edit or Insert menu. These functions let you find all sorts of symbols including the ® or ™ symbol. However, I find copy and paste to be faster. That is, you can copy and paste the symbol right from this webpage into your document.
Why you almost never see the ℠ symbol

The ℠ symbol means “service mark”, which indicates services (rather than goods). However, because the abbreviation SM has another, derogatory meaning, it is rarely used. The ™ symbol works identically, and, should be preferred.

16 Comments

  1. Gregory on January 12, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Very helpful. You should add a digital currency donate button at the bottom, as I would have donated a tiny sum as I have benefited and am using it now with a vendor for my logo.

    • Emily Genevish on January 17, 2018 at 9:28 pm

      I think I will add a PayPal donate button. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. K on February 27, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    What is the correct location for (R) sign under following registration conditions below?

    Service Mark: Morzz Event DJ

    Disclaimer: No claim is made to the exclusive right to use “Event DJ” apart from the mark as shown.

    ® sign location:

    1. Morzz® Event DJ

    OR

    2. Morzz Event DJ®

    • Emily Genevish on March 5, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      The correct location would be Morzz Event DJ® If that is what you registered as the company name, if that is your Service Mark.

  3. PinkRoseMoments on April 9, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Does it make sense to place the trademark sign at the end of the actual logo or does it make sense to place it at the end of (dot)com. ie: jellybeansTM (or) jellybeans.comTM?

    • Emily Genevish on April 13, 2018 at 5:41 pm

      It should go after the brand name. If your brand name actually includes .com, for example shoes.com then it would go at the end of that. If your company name is just “Jellybeans” then it goes after that. Hope this helps!

  4. Jenny on April 17, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    In logos, should the trademark be in a particular place (i.e. next to the upper right edge of the logo) or does it not matter at all?

    • Emily Genevish on May 7, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Jenny! According to the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), there are no rules about where the mark needs to be placed, however, it is best practice to add it where people most usually will look for it, IE: upper- or lower-right hand corner of the logo. Hope that helps!

  5. Rachel on May 2, 2018 at 1:17 am

    Hi Emily,

    I have aquestion.
    What if someone filed a trademark and being rejected and the person continue to claim ‘the name’ as being trademark. How can you take away that illegitimacy of the False trademark usage?

    • Emily Genevish on May 7, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      Well, the USPTO has no powers of enforcement concerning the use of trademarks in the marketplace… You may challenge use of your trademark by someone else in several ways, depending on the factual situation. You should consider contacting an attorney specializing in trademark law.

  6. Abrar on May 3, 2018 at 8:06 am

    Is there any propotion to use “R” in any logo?

    • Emily Genevish on May 7, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      Hi Abrar! Not sure what you mean. If you mean proportion of the symbol, there is no rules to this, only common practice. If you mean can you use the R in any logo, no you can only use the registered mark if the logo has been registered with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

      • Cora on February 10, 2019 at 12:44 am

        Hi… Is there a proper size to use “R” in a logo? What is the right proportion of “R” from the logo’s text height/size.

        • Emily Genevish on March 7, 2019 at 3:04 am

          When using a ® or a ™ after a word, adjust the point size so the symbol looks clean and legible yet unobtrusive. Hope this helps!

  7. Dave on January 27, 2019 at 5:41 am

    Silly question, I’m wondering what’s the legality of using the ™ symbol in artwork. So, If I were doing a t-shirt design that had a fictitious product, like, a candy bar or comic book, would it be an issue there?

    • Emily Genevish on March 7, 2019 at 3:03 am

      I am not a trademark lawyer, but the use of the TM symbol is not restricted. IF you were to try and use the Registered TM there might be an issue legally.

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