What’s the Deal with Trademarks Alphabet

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

What’s the Deal with Trademarks Alphabet

You see them everywhere but do thy mean? In this week’s Murray’s Law you’ll learn exactly what these symbols are and when to use them. ©™®

Hello, wonderful, beautiful people. I am a LaConya Murray, brand attorney, speaker and entrepreneur advocate. Welcome to another edition of Murray’s law.

So this question is what’s the deal with all these alphabets? There’s © ™ SM ® ?  What is all this about? Today I’m going to break it down for you.


Why should you use this TM symbol? Whenever you see this symbol it puts you on notice that someone is enforcing a common law trademark. They don’t have a registered federal trademark but may be going through the process. You can use this symbol whether or not you are having an application, on file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The ™ symbol shows you have a common law trademark. Use it with anything you want to protect by federal trademark registration and maybe haven’t had a chance to do so yet. This ™ symbol is for goods. So it lets people know that your, that you’re protecting a good.

So when we talk about goods, for example, here’s a bottle from Mess in a  Bottle. She sells t-shirts. So she has a TM. If you guys can see that she has a TM next to her logo to represent her common law trademark. So because this is a good, that is a proper use of TM. 

The next symbol we will discuss, we don’t see that much because most people use this trademark interchangeably. 


So this SM is just like the TM,  meaning that it represents a common law mark.  You haven’t registered it yet, but you want to protect trademarks. Use the SM if you are in a service business. So if you are a coach or consultant or photographer, a lawyer, dentist, you know you are providing a service. And so instead of using that TM, the proper, symbol to use would be an SM. As I stated before, many people use the SM and TM interchangeably. However if you’re in a service based business, you want to use SM.


So when you see this symbol, it’s an R with a circle around it, this represents a registered trademark or registered service mark. Now we talked about trademarks and service marks. Once you go through the application process and are approved, both of the TM and SM end up this same symbol. So this is for registered.

What this means is that it’s gone through the process that your application has been filed. The examining attorney has reviewed it. It’s been published to the public for objections. Everything is great. And you have a certificate of registration. That’s when you use ®.  You do not use that ® before then.

So far we have the TM, SM and now we have this R, so the final one that we see very often is the ©. The © represents copyrights.


So the thing about using this, ©, you can use it to represent your copyrights. Copyrights are original works that are in a fixed, tangible form.  So if you’ve written a book, if you have, produced a course, wrote a poem, music film, taking a picture,  you can use this, © whether or not you have actually registered your work with the copyright office.

This puts people on notice that your work is protected by copyrights and it’s really good to do. So the law, it used to be a law where you had to have these have had the symbol in order to be able to enforce your rights. But the law has changed and you don’t have to anymore. However, it’s to your benefit to use this © whenever you can because if you don’t, it’d be hard for you to claim that someone willfully infringed on your rights, meaning that they knew that it was protected by copyrights and they used it anyway.

If you’re ready to protect your brand and business through trademarks and or copyright, contact my office to learn how I can assist you.

More To Explore


Everyone Doesn’t Need A Trademark

How To Determine If You Need A Federal Trademark Everyone doesn’t need a trademark. Yes, I’m a brand attorney. Yes, I help entrepreneurs throughout the

© 2019 LaConya Murray, Esq. All rights reserved.