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  • Writer's pictureTamara Pester

Understanding Intellectual Property Symbols: When and How to Use ™, ®, and ©

In the world of branding and intellectual property, symbols play a crucial role in safeguarding your creations and setting your business apart. Three symbols, in particular, have significant importance: ™, ®, and ©. These symbols convey different messages and legal statuses. Let's demystify them and explore when and how to use each.


Three symbols have significant importance: ™, ®, and ©.

™ - The Trademark Symbol


The ™ symbol represents an unregistered trademark. It's used to indicate that you claim rights to a particular word, phrase, logo, or symbol as a trademark. You can use the ™ symbol on your brand elements, such as your business name, product names, or slogans, as soon as you start using them in commerce.


Why use ™?

  • Notice: It puts others on notice that you consider a specific element a trademark.

  • Common Law Rights: Even without registration, using ™ establishes common law trademark rights.

  • Deterrence: It may deter potential infringers.

How to use ™:


Place it in superscript (small and raised) next to the trademarked element (e.g., MyBrand™).


® - The Registered Trademark Symbol


The ® symbol signifies a registered trademark. You should only use ® if your trademark has been officially registered with the relevant trademark authority in your jurisdiction (e.g., the United States Patent and Trademark Office - USPTO). Registration grants you exclusive rights to use the mark for the specified goods or services in the registered classes.


Why use ®?

  • Legal Protection: It signals that your trademark is registered, and you have legal protection.

  • Deterrence: It discourages potential infringers.

  • Enhanced Brand Value: Registered trademarks often have higher perceived value.

How to use ®:


Place it in superscript next to the trademarked element (e.g., MyBrand®).


© - The Copyright Symbol

The © symbol indicates that a work is protected by copyright law. Copyright applies to creative works like literary, artistic, and musical compositions. You can use © to inform others that you are the owner of the copyrighted content and that it is protected by copyright law.


Why use ©?

  • Ownership: It asserts your ownership of creative content.

  • Legal Protection: It puts potential infringers on notice.

  • Public Notice: It informs the public of copyright protection.

How to use ©:


Place it next to the copyrighted work, followed by the copyright owner's name and the year of first publication (e.g., © 2023 YourName).


In summary, these symbols serve as essential tools for protecting and preserving your intellectual property rights. Using the correct symbol at the right time is not only a legal necessity but also a valuable practice in establishing and safeguarding your brand and creative works. So, whether it's ™ for your brand, ® for your registered trademark, or © for your creative content, don't hesitate to use these symbols to your advantage. They are your key to asserting and protecting what's rightfully yours in the competitive world of business and creativity.


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