If you’ve ever been confused about trademarks and copyrights, you’re not the only one. When you come across the symbols ™, ®, and © you might ask yourself, “When should I be using them? And why?”
Many online business owners know they could be protecting their intellectual property (IP), but they’re not exactly sure how.
Well, the symbols ™, ®, and © are all connected to protecting your IP, but you want to make sure you’re not misusing them. Get ready for our simple breakdown of these trademark and copyright symbols. 👇
Both ™ and ® are symbols used to identify trademark usage. They’re similar, but different…so here’s exactly how you’ll want to use them as you grow your brand online.
Unregistered Trademark Symbol
The trademark symbol ™ identifies a trademark that is *not* federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If you have yet to secure your federal trademark rights, you can still begin using the ™ symbol to put others on notice of your trademark usage.
Specifically, you can place ™ after your brand name, program name, product name, logo, signature framework name, etc.
You can (and should) begin using ™ today if you haven’t yet secured your trademark rights. It’s not 100% effective, but it’s better than nothing.
Example Uses of ™
- The Queen Bee Mastermind™ for the name of your mastermind program
- The PAUSE Method™ for your signature methodology
- Wake Up & Slay™ for the name of your podcast
Using ™ gives your peers or competitors a basic level of awareness, but this next symbol truly makes things official…
Registered Trademark Symbol
The trademark symbol ® is the federal trademark registration symbol. This denotes the fact that your trademark *has* been registered with the USPTO. (Remember: R is for registered).
You should start using this circled R symbol after your brand name, program name, product name, logo, etc.
To be super clear: Just because you’ve submitted your trademark application does not mean you can start using the ® symbol. You have to wait until you receive official notice from the USPTO that your desired trademark has been approved. Using this symbol anywhere without actual registration is illegal. Girl, don’t do it!
So, if you haven’t received that approval yet, revert back to using ™ in the mean time.
Now, let’s switch gears a bit. Yes, we’re still talking about IP, but we’re moving on from trademarks…
The symbol © is the federal copyright symbol. (Remember: C is for copyright). You’ll want to use this symbol to identify a copyright in an original work of art or authorship. Regardless of the platform or channel, you want the world to know that your work belongs to you.
Example Uses of ©
- Canva graphic
- Blog post
- Coaching program
- Podcast episode
No one is allowed to simply copy or distribute your work without your permission.
That’s why you’ll see the © symbol in a book, at the bottom of a website, under a photo, etc. The author, website owner, or photographer wants their customers to enjoy their work. But they don’t want them to unlawfully make money or build a brand around work that doesn’t belong to them.
So if a customer is tempted to share or resell a product or piece of content they enjoyed, they’ll see the copyright symbol and think twice about the law.
You might be wondering, “Do I have to wait to use the © symbol, just like the ® symbol?” Great news: Copyright ownership is activated as soon as you create your work. No need to wait. Attach the symbol, and proudly claim your work as your own.
What We Covered
Trademarks and copyrights are an unavoidable part of your online business. To set yourself up for success, be sure to properly use these symbols:
™ is the unregistered trademark symbol to use before registering with the USPTO.
® is the registered trademark symbol to use after the USPTO has approved your application.
© is the copyright symbol to use as soon as you create a new piece of art/work.
See? Trademarks and copyrights aren’t too complicated. Now, go build your legally protected empire!
Ready to protect your intellectual property? Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal templates, so you can grow your business while staying Protected & Profitable™✨
*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.