TRADEMARK SYMBOLS EXPLAINED
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a word, name, symbol, logo, design, or any combination thereof that distinguishes the goods of one seller from those of others and indicates the source of the goods.
What is a service mark?
A service mark is also a word, name, symbol, logo, design, or any combination thereof, but in this case it distinguishes the services of one provider from those of others and indicates the source of the services.
What is a registered mark?
Trademark registration occurs when a trademark owner submits an application for registration with the U.S. Trademark Office. If the Office determines the applied for mark satisfies all statutory requirements, then the trademark or service mark will be added to a publicly accessible database of registered trademarks. Registration creates rights throughout the United States and its territories as the user expands their business across state lines. The benefits of federal registration are outlined here.
Trademark Symbols: what they are and when to use them
There are three important trademark symbols to be aware of:
The R enclosed in a circle ® is the symbol for a registered trademark, that is, a mark that has been officially registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Trademark owners should use this symbol only after they have received a certificate of registration from the USPTO.
The TM symbol can be appended to a trademark (e.g., word) that has not been registered with the USPTO. Use of this symbol provides notice to consumers that the "word" is being used as a trademark. It is generally good practice to include this symbol on any products bearing an unregistered trademark.
The SM symbol can be affixed to a service mark (e.g., word) that has not been registered with the USPTO. Use of this symbol provides notice to consumers that the "word" is being used as a service mark. It is generally good practice to include this symbol when using an unregistered service mark.
Trademark Symbols Provide Notice to the Public
Trademark owners are encouraged to mark their goods, and to the extent possible their services, with the symbols discussed above because the marking provides notice to the relevant public that the trademark is being employed as a source identifier and has been registered with the USPTO. The relevant trademark statute, 15 U.S.C. § 1111, explains the letter R enclosed within a circle ®, or the phrases "Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office" or "Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.", should be used when marking the goods and services. Importantly, the statute states that a failure to provide such notice of registration will preclude the trademark owner from recovering damages from an infringer unless the defendant had actual notice of the trademark registration, which can sometimes be difficult to prove.
Trademark Symbols Should Not be Misused
The federal registration symbol ® should be used only on or in connection with the goods and services listed in the registration. And the federal registration symbol ® should not be used with marks that are not actually registered in the USPTO, even if an application is pending. Improper use of the federal registration symbol ® that is found to be deliberate and intended to deceive or mislead the public or the USPTO is fraud.
Contact an Experienced IP Lawyer
If you are preparing to launch a new business, product line, or service, then do yourself a favor and schedule a free consultation with Nolan IP Law today to discuss whether registering a trademark is in your best interest.
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