What Do TM and Circle R (®) Symbols Mean and How to Use Them? - The Trademark Place (2024)

Whether you are a business owner, a marketer, or a consumer, everyone has seen the trademark symbols TM and circle R (®). They are on almost every product or service that we see. But do you know what they are? In this blog post, we will explain what they mean and how (and when) to use them.

TM Symbol

The TM symbol is short for trademark. Trademarks are names, logos, slogans, etc. that are used to distinguish products or services from others. Let’s use sodas as an example. When you see Coca-Cola, you know it’s not the same thing as Pepsi or Dr. Pepper. These are each separate trademarks owned by different companies.

The TM symbol puts people on notice that the mark identifies the brand. However, it does not mean that the mark is federally registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Anyone can use the TM symbol without applying for registration or paying any fees. The TM symbol can be used for both goods and services.

Registered Trademark Symbol

The Circle R (®) which means “registered trademark,” is used to show that the mark has been fully registered. For example, Nike has registered their name, the Swoosh logo, and the phrase “Just do it” for, among other things, shoes and sporting goods. On each of their products, you can find the ®. Trademark registration gives the owner exclusive rights to use the mark and prevent others from using confusingly similar marks. Registered trademarks can also be used as evidence of validity and ownership in case of infringement or dispute.

The registered trademark symbol can only be used after the mark has been registered. It’s considered fraudulent to use the circle R symbol for an unregistered mark or a mark that is pending registration. The registered trademark symbol can also only be used for the goods and services included in the registration.

Both trademark symbols, TM and the R in a circle, are typically placed in the upper right-hand corner or lower right-hand corner of the mark. They should also be consistent throughout all marketing materials and communications.

What About the SM Symbol?

SM is an acronym for service mark. The best way to think of a service mark is as a type of trademark that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. FedEx is a service mark for a delivery service.

The SM symbol shows that the owner considers the mark to be proprietary and unique and that it is a part of their intellectual property. However, just like the TM symbol, it does not necessarily mean that the mark is registered. Anyone can use the SM symbol without applying for registration or paying any fees. A key difference between the SM and TM symbols is that the service mark symbol can only be used for services, not goods, whereas the trademark symbol can be used for both.

The SM symbol can be replaced by the circle R symbol after the mark has been registered with the USPTO or another government agency. The same rules and benefits that apply to registered trademarks also apply to registered service marks. The circle R symbol can only be used for the services that are covered by the registration.

The SM symbol is less common than the TM and circle R symbols, as most businesses offer both goods and services under their brand name. However, if you provide a service distinct from your goods, you may want to use the SM symbol to indicate to your consumers that this is for a service and not a good.

How to Use Them

Using TM and circle R symbols correctly can help you protect your brand identity and reputation, as well as avoid legal troubles. Here are some tips:

  • Use TM for unregistered marks or marks that are pending registration.

  • Use the R symbol for officially registered marks only.

  • Do not use TM or the registered trademark symbol for generic terms, descriptive terms, or common words that are not distinctive.

  • Do not use TM or the registered symbol for marks that belong to someone else without their permission.

  • Do not use TM or circle R for marks that are confusingly similar to existing marks.

  • Do not use TM or circle R for marks that are offensive, deceptive, or misleading.

Can You Still Use TM After Registration?

It is a simple and common question that trademark owners have. Can (or should) they still use the TM symbol after trademark registration? The short answer is yes they can, but it’s really not recommended. Let’s look at why you shouldn’t.

Using TM after registration may confuse consumers about the status of your mark. Consumers may think that your mark is still unregistered or pending registration, which may affect their perception of your brand quality and reputation.

Using TM after registration may weaken your legal protection. If you use TM instead of circle R, you may lose some of the benefits of registration, such as presumption of validity and ownership, nationwide protection, constructive notice, right to sue, and recordation with customs.

Using TM after registration may expose you to infringement claims. If you use TM instead of the R symbol, you may imply that you do not have exclusive rights to your mark or that you do not care about enforcing your rights. This may encourage others to use your mark or similar marks without your permission.

Therefore, it is advisable to use circle R instead of TM after registration to show that you are a registered trademark owner and that you take your intellectual property seriously. This will help you protect your mark from infringement and dilution and enhance your brand image and credibility.

However, there are some exceptions where you may still use TM after registration. For example:

Where you only have some of your goods or services registered, then you should use the R symbol for the goods or services that are actually registered and TM for the rest.

When you are using your mark internationally, you can use the registered symbol in the countries where it is registered and the trademark symbol in the countries where it’s not.

Marks consisting of multiple elements, like a logo and a slogan, can use the circle symbol for the registered element and TM for the unregistered element.

In any case, you should always use the symbols correctly and consistently.

If you have any questions about trademarks or need professional assistance with registering your mark, please contact us today for a consultation.

What Do TM and Circle R (®) Symbols Mean and How to Use Them? - The Trademark Place (2024)


What Do TM and Circle R (®) Symbols Mean and How to Use Them? - The Trademark Place? ›

The TM and SM symbols indicate that your trademark is not yet registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In contrast, the ® symbol means that your trademark is registered. The ® is only for trademarks that have been federally registered with the U.S. government.

What does the TM and R symbol mean? ›

The ® on a product means that it's a registered trademark, meaning the brand name or logo is protected by (officially registered in) the US Patent and Trademark Office, while plain old ™ trademarks have no legal backing. Protections for registered trademarks last for 10 years and can be renewed after that.

What is the difference between circled R and TM? ›

TM can be used for any trademark whereas R can only be used by federally registered trademarks.

How do you use TM for trademark? ›

The symbol lets consumers and competitors know you're claiming the trademark as yours. You can use “TM” for goods or “SM” for services even if you haven't filed an application to register your trademark. Once you register your trademark with us, use an ® with the trademark.

What is the TM symbol with a circle? ›

The letters “TM” in superscript – TM– and the letter R in a circle – “®” – are the two most often used trademark symbols, however, there are others, such as TM, which is commonly used for service marks in the Philippines, or the acronym RTM (which stands for “registered trademark”).

What does r with a circle around it mean? ›

The R circle logo, also known as the registered trademark symbol, indicates that a word, phrase, symbol, or design has been officially registered with the trademark office. The R logo provides legal protection and exclusive rights to the registered trademark owner.

How do you type the TM and R symbol? ›

Insert copyright and trademark symbols
  1. To insert the copyright symbol, press Ctrl+Alt+C.
  2. To insert the trademark symbol, press Ctrl+Alt+T.
  3. To insert the registered trademark symbol, press Ctrl+Alt+R.

When should I use TM or R? ›

You do not have to have registered a trademark to use it and many companies will opt to use the TM symbol for new goods or services in advance of and during the application process. The R symbol indicates that this word, phrase, or logo is a registered trademark for the product or service.

Can I use the R symbol without registering? ›

You're only allowed to use this symbol with a federally registered mark for the goods/services specified in the registration. While you're not legally required to use the ® symbol, you should.

Is it illegal to put TM on a logo? ›

Yes, any trademark owner can use the TM symbol at any time. You don't have to ask for permission or have the approval of the US Patent and Trademark Office. In fact, a trademark owner can continue to use the TM symbol even if the US Patent and Trademark Office rejects their trademark application.

Can I just put TM on my logo? ›

Although it is not a legal requirement, you can use the TM symbol to identify your unregistered trade marks. A trade mark is a form of intellectual property that can distinguish your goods and services from those offered by your competitors.

Where should I place TM logo? ›

Typically, the symbol is placed in the upper right-hand corner, in the lower right-hand corner, or level with the mark—each is an acceptable way of displaying the relevant symbol.

When can I start use TM on my logo? ›

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS When Am I Allowed to Put TM Next To My Brand? You can put the TM next to your brand at any time without seeking permission from anyone. You can still employ the TM symbol if you have no plans to register your trademark anywhere.

What is R and TM in a logo? ›

Both the TM and R symbols signify that the brand name or logo has some level of legal protection. Still, the legal protection you get with TM is different than R. The rules for using the symbols are also different, so you have to be careful about how they apply to you.

What is the name with the R in a circle? ›

What is a Registered Trademark (®)? If you've ever noticed the small “R” in a circle that appears to the right of a logo, symbol or phrase, you've seen the registered trademark symbol. This symbol is legally stating that the mark has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

What is the code for the TM symbol? ›

Press and hold the ALT key and type the number 0153 to make a trademark symbol alt code.

What does the TM symbol text mean? ›

TM stands for trademark.

What is the R symbol in math? ›

R = real numbers, Z = integers, N=natural numbers, Q = rational numbers, P = irrational numbers.

What does TM mean in a text message? ›

It can be used as an abbreviation for “Text Message” or “Tomorrow.” Additionally, TM can be an acronym for “Trademark” or “Too Much.” What is this? However, these alternative meanings are less commonly used in everyday conversations, and it's important to consider the context to determine the intended interpretation.

What does TM mean on keyboard? ›

™ - stands for a trademark; ® - stands for a registered trademark; © - stands for copyright. That's so you can easily copy and paste tm, R and C.

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