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Understanding the difference between ™, ®, and © can help safeguard your business assets and avoid legal complications.

What Do Trademark and Copyright Symbols Mean

Trademark Symbols: ™ and ®

™ (Small TM): This symbol is used to indicate that you are claiming rights to a trademark, even if it hasn’t been federally registered yet. It’s a great way to put others on notice that you consider your brand name, logo, slogan, or any other mark to be your trademark, which can also deter others from generically using the mark. You can use the ™ symbol on your marketing materials, website, social media platforms, and more.

® (Circled R): The ® symbol is reserved for trademarks that have been officially registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This registration grants you exclusive rights to use the trademark nationwide in connection with your goods or services. Be cautious—using the ® symbol without registration can lead to legal issues.

Copyright Symbol: ©

© (Circled C): This symbol indicates that a work is protected by copyright. Copyright applies to original works of authorship such as books, articles, music, artwork, and other creative content. While you don’t need to register your copyright to use the © symbol, registration offers additional legal protections. Include the © symbol along with the year of creation and the name of the copyright owner to assert your rights clearly.

Why Correct Usage Matters

Using these symbols correctly helps protect your intellectual property and informs others of your legal claims. This can deter potential infringers and strengthen your brand’s integrity. Here are a few practical steps to ensure you’re using them correctly:

  1. Audit Your Materials: Regularly check your marketing materials, website, social media profiles, and product packaging to ensure you are using the correct symbols.

  2. Educate Your Team: Make sure your team knows the importance of using these symbols consistently and correctly across all platforms.

  3. Stay Updated: Intellectual property laws and best practices can change. So keep informed about any updates that might affect your business.

By taking these steps, you can protect your business’s valuable assets and maintain a strong, recognizable brand. If you have any questions about trademarks, copyrights, or any other intellectual property issues, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help!


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*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.

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