Trademark™ vs Registered® What is the Difference?

Monica Malave, Marketing Strategist of Elevate It Now

Trademark™ vs Registered® What is the Difference? I had an amazing four-hour conversation with one of my awesome colleagues, Vanessa Rowley-Matthew from VCM Marketing about all thing’s trademarks, registrations, penalties for violations, and more, and thought I would share with you what the difference is between the TM, SM, and ®. This is straight from the US Patent Office who is the US Governmental agency overseeing all things this and they have a handy booklet that you can refer to as well.

You become a trademark owner as soon as you start using your trademark with your goods or services. You establish rights in your trademark by using it, but those rights are limited, and they only apply to the geographic area in which you are providing your goods or services. If you want stronger, nationwide rights, you will need to apply to register your trademark with us.

You are not required to register your trademark. However, a registered trademark provides broader rights and protections than an unregistered one.

For example, you use a logo as a trademark for the handmade jewelry you sell at a local farmer’s market. As your business grows and you expand online, you might want more protection for your trademark and decide to apply for federal registration. Registering your trademark with the USPTO means that you create nationwide rights in your trademark.

Using the trademark symbols TM, SM, and ®

Every time you use your trademark, you can use a symbol with it. The symbol lets consumers and competitors know you are claiming the trademark as yours. You can use “TM” for goods or “SM” for services even if you have not filed an application to register your trademark.

Once you register your trademark with us, use an ® with the trademark. You may use the registration symbol anywhere around the trademark, although most trademark owners use the symbol in a superscript or subscript manner to the right of the trademark. You may only use the registration symbol with the trademark for the goods or services listed in the federal trademark registration.

Furthermore, when you just trademark your logo, product, or service and you DON’T register it with the US Patent Office YOU HAVE NO LEGAL standing outside of your service area so register your beloved work if you want real protection. Just because you put a TM after your wordage or logo does not mean it has any protection of any kind.

If you are ever threatened with something like this, before you flip out, educate yourself because the person threatening you may not have a leg to stand on. Here is all you need to know.


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