What is the Correct Trademark Symbol?

The symbol you’ll want to use in relation to your business is highly dependent on what you’ve done to protect it and whether you offer goods or services. Please review the following categories and review what trademark symbol best fits your business.

My business does not own a federal trademark registration

Your business may use the TM symbol or SM symbol (service mark) any time after you begin using your mark in commerce. In other words, neither use requires registration. In fact, it’s suggested that if you have not obtained a registration for your trademark you should use either TM or SM to signify your claim of BUSINESS TRADEMARK SYMBOLownership. These symbols give notice to third-parties that you are claiming the name as your trademark/servicemark. Such, use can help in establishing common law rights. The United States Patent and Trademark Office does not regulate the use of TM or SM. TM (Trademark) refers to businesses selling goods, whereas SM (Servicemark) refers to selling services.

  • Use ™ if you are selling goods.
  • Use ℠ if you are selling services.

I’ve got a pending federal application

If you’ve filed a new application but do not own a registration you’ll want to follow the above guidelines for the TM symbol or SM symbol based on not owning a federal trademark registration.

My business owns a federal trademark registration

A federal trademark registration reserves the trademark for your business use and affords you certain benefits. Only federally registered trademarks may use the R circle symbol (®). Those using the R circle symbol without a federal registration may be committing fraud.

  • Use ®

Business trademark symbol summary

While you are procuring your rights to a federal registration use the TM symbol or SM symbol. Lastly, if you seek nationwide ownership of your trademark your best option is to obtain a federal trademark registration.