What Are All Those Symbols ®©™?

We see them all the time, everywhere we go. But what do all those symbols mean?

Trademark Symbols[1]

® – The “R in a circle” stands for “registered trademark.” A person or company using this symbol has trademark rights that are registered with either the United States Trademark Office or a trademark office of another country or jurisdiction (like the European Union).

™ – This stands for “trademark.” It means the person or company has trademark rights that may or may not be registered.

SM  – This stands for “servicemark”. It’s basically the same as ™ but for services instead of products.

Copyright Symbol[2]

© – This is the copyright symbol. It means that the person or company is claiming copyright. This symbol is used whether or not the copyright is registered.

Should I Be Using Them?

Yeah, you really should.

You should use the copyright symbol on all copies of copyrighted works. Here’s how I use it:

2019 © Berdinis Law P.C.

cropped-bee-only1You should use a trademark symbol on all your trademarks. If you have an UN-registered trademark, you should use the ™ (or SM). If you have a registered trademark, you should use ®.

SuperDry copy 2

Some companies, like SuperDry® really go all out in featuring the symbol.

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 2.43.58 PM.png

Lately, some companies don’t include the symbol because they feel it interferes with the look and lines of their mark. When you’re as famous as Google®, you’re welcome to lose the ®.

That wasn’t so bad, was it?



[1] A trademark is a word, short phrase, design, etc. used to let people know the source of goods or services. Nike® is a trademark for athletic shoes. Google® is a servicemark for internet search services. A trademark can be one word, a few words or (rarely) lots of words. It can be a design, alone or with words. It can also be a sound or a smell or anything else that identifies a source of goods or services.

Trademark rights allow you to stop other people from using your trademark or a trademark that’s “confusingly similar” to your trademark.

[2] Copyright protects “original works of authorship”. This includes literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. The 1976 Copyright Act gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.

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