LearnAboutLaw Staff July 2007

The ® and ™ SymbolsThe ® and ™ symbols that denote trademark status are routinely misused. These symbols have different meanings. We’ll clarify the difference here.

The symbol ® means that a mark is a registered mark, and should be applied only to marks that have received U. S. trademark registration. Pending registrations do now qualify for the use of this symbol.

The symbol ™ means that the user is claiming rights in the mark, but that the mark is not yet registered. This symbol should always appear near your marks, if your marks have not ripened into registrations.

The Trademark Registration MisconceptionThe most common misconception regarding trademarks is that one must register a trademark to earn the right to use the mark exclusively. Such is not the case; rights to a trademark arise from use of the mark in the public marketplace, not from trademark registration. Of course, trademark registration is always recommended. Registered trademarks carry a tremendous advantage in litigation, and trademark infringers routinely cower when confronted by the owner of a registered mark. In fact, registration will not be granted until the mark is used in commerce.

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