Trademark FAQs

Trademark Symbol

Businesses use a trademark symbol next to their marks to indicate that they claim rights in a trademark.

What is the trademark symbol?

Businesses use the following trademark symbols as a superscript to the right of their trademark: TM, SM and ®

  • The TM symbol stands for “trademark.” It is used to alert the public about your claim to the trademark, regardless of whether you have filed an application to register the trademark in connection with goods.
  • The SM stands for “service mark.” It is a designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO, in connection with services.
  • The R symbol ® indicates that the trademark is registered federally with the USPTO or the PTO of another country.

May I use the federal registration symbol ® before the USPTO issues my trademark registration?

  • The USPTO says that: You may use the federal registration symbol ® only after the USPTO actually registers a mark, and not while an application is pending. Also, you may use the registration symbol with the mark only on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the federal trademark registration in the USA.
  • Before registration, you may only use the ™ symbol or the service mark ℠ symbol.
  • Having a trademark provides a host of legal protections. According to the American Bar Association, a trademark “grants the right to use the registered trademark symbol: ®,” allows a rights holder to sue for trademark infringement, and “acts as a bar to the registration of another confusingly similar mark.”
  • Fraudulent use of the registration symbol ® may cause you trouble in registering a trademark. While examiners may overlook the registration symbol ® when reviewing specimens, potential opponents may seize on the opportunity to invalidate a trademark application when it is advertised in the USPTO Trademark Official Gazette.
  • Misuse of Registration symbol is a ground of opposition. See: Copelands’ Enterprises Inc. v. CNV Inc., 945 F.2d 1563, 20 USPQ2d 1295 (Fed. Cir. 1991)

May I submit specimens with the R symbols on them?

  • The R symbol used on Statement of Use specimens may cause problems and delay the registration of your trademark.
  • The TMEP is clear on this. The Examiner is instructed to scold you and that’s it. The Examiner is instructed to accept the specimen unless there is some other reason (not the R in a circle) to reject it. After all, the R in a circle might be there because of a valid and subsisting registration in some country that is not the US.
  • A U.S. registration for related goods/services or a related mark is not

Am I required to register my mark?

No. You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark in most countries, but it can become very expensive to prove your unregistered trademark rights if you need to go court.
Owning a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages, such as:

  • You may use the federal registration symbol ® on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the federal trademark registration.
  • Constructive notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark;
  • A legal presumption of ownership of a valid trademark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration, if it is registered on the Principal Register;
  • The ability to bring an action concerning the trademark in federal court;
  • The use of the U.S trademark registration as a basis to obtain trademark registration in foreign countries; and
  • The ability to file the U.S. trademark registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent others from importing infringing foreign goods.

When can I use the trademark symbols TM and SM?

Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the ™ (trademark) or the ℠ (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO.

Trademark Symbols on your Keyboard

The trademark symbol ™ in HTML is either:
 ™ or ™
The service mark symbol ℠ in HTML is ℠

Typing the R trademark symbol:

Registered Trademark Symbol ® in HTML:
® or ® or ®
Windows Alt code: Alt + 0174 (on numeric keypad).
Linux: either AltGr + R or Compose key, O, R
Mac OS: Option + R
US-International keyboard layout and UK-International keyboard layout: AltGr+R.
Emacs: C-x 8 R
LaTeX: \textregistered in text mode.
LaTeX: \circledR in text or math mode (requires amsfonts package)

Trademark Symbol References
These points of authority do not necessarily reflect the views of the writer. This blog is not legal advice. These posts are just notes.