Greetings. I’m trademark attorney Josh Gerben, and today I want to talk a little bit about the symbols that you can use with your trademark to make sure that everybody knows you either have a federal registration or that you’re claiming a trademark right in the trademark.
The three symbols are the circled R (®), little capital letters TM (™), and the little capital letters SM (℠). The circled R can only be used once you have a federal registration. This means you’ve applied for it and received a trademark registration from the US government.
You are not allowed to use the circled R before you receive the registration. If you apply for the trademark and then begin using the circled R, that can be grounds for the government to deny the trademark application, because using that circled R is actually a violation of federal law unless you have the trademark.
The other two symbols you can use are little capital letters TM or SM. These are the symbols you should use, you know before you file a trademark application or during the application process.
TM stands for trademark. A trademark is a mark that represents goods, like clothing or sunglasses.
SM stands for service mark. Service marks are marks that represent services. So for example, I’m Gerben Law Firm. I offer legal services. It’s a service mark.
In our culture, we use the word trademarks to really refer to trademarks and service marks. The word service marks isn’t used very often. It’s just a technical thing. But if you are offering a service, the technical thing you should do is put the little SM after your name.
Again, the most important thing you can take away from this video is don’t use a circled R until you get a federal trademark registration. That’s when you get the certificate of registration in the mail. If you use that circled R too early, again that can be a reason for your application to get refused by the US government.