Frequently Asked Questions

What is the proper use of TM, SM, and ®?

The initials TM are a recognized abbreviation for trademark. The ™ symbol, which is usually placed behind the mark, indicates that the owner claims the term as a trademark. It is not necessary to have a registration, or even a pending application, to use this designation.

In the event the mark is to be used in association with particular services instead of goods, the mark owner may use the SM symbol to designate a term as a service mark. A service mark is simply a trademark used to identify a service rather than a product.

As an alternative to using the ™ or SM symbols, a trademark owner can use a trademark credit line at the bottom of the text to denote ownership of a mark. For example, at the bottom of a webpage or marketing brochure which contains a particular mark, the owner can indicate ownership of that mark by including language such as “ZZZZ is a trademark (or service mark) of ABC, Inc.”

If the trademark is registered, however, the owner may use the ® symbol next to the term. The registration symbol, ®, may not be used until the USPTO has issued a Certificate of Registration for the mark. In all cases, the mark should be used consistently to enable it to develop significance as a “source indicator.”

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like more information about the proper use trademark symbols.

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