The 3 Trademark Symbols and Which One You Should be Using
Listen up fellow entrepreneurs! If your business has a brand (which it does), then you should be using a trademark symbol where ever your brand is being marketed. Regardless of whether your brand is registered as a federal trademark or not, it should always be accompanied by one of the three trademark symbols. Read below and make sure your brand’s using the right symbol next to your logo, tag line and business name.
But First… What are the 3 commonly used trademark symbols?
I’m fairly certain you’ve seen at least one of these trademark symbols on other, more established brands. The most commonly used symbols are the “TM”, “SM” and the “R in a circle”. They look like this:
Why do I need to include a trademark symbol with my brand?
Aside from bragging rights, you’ll want to have one of these symbols attached to your brand to let your competitors know that you’re claiming any rights you have in your brand. Think of it as warning sign that in unspoken words says “hey world, this brand belongs to someone and isn’t up from grabs, so watch it (literally) and don’t use it without my permission”. Having one of these trademark symbols on everywhere you use your brand also makes it really hard for infringers to claim that they didn’t know it was taken when they encountered your brand.
So, which trademark symbol is right for your brand
It’s imperative to use the right symbol since using the wrong symbol could not only cost you your rights in your brand but could also raise allegations of deceiving the public and result in a federal penalty. So, pay attention, here. You’re only going to be using one of these symbols at a time depending on two things: first, whether your trademark is federally registered and second, whether your brand offers a product or service. A brand that has been federally registered as a trademark will use the “R in a circle”. If your brand, logo or tagline doesn’t have a registration certificate, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, use this symbol. If your brand hasn’t started the trademark registration process or hasn’t been issued a registration certificate, then it will use the “TM” symbol if your brand is for a product. If your brand offers a service, then you’ll use the “SM” symbol. If you aren’t 100% sure, you can always get in touch with a trademark attorney to guide you.
Make the change everywhere…
Call your brand developer, your IT girl, and marketing consultant, ASAP. You’ll want to make extra sure that you’re always using one of these trademark symbols everywhere your brand appears. This includes on your product, on your website, social media and marketing materials. You can thank me later!