What is the ® Registered Trademark Symbol and Should I Use It?

In the world of commerce, the ® registered trademark symbol (known as the “Circle R”) conveys a very important meaning.  The registered trademark symbol signifies that a trademark or service mark has been federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).  It’s regularly used by owners of registered trademarks to put the world on actual notice of their federal trademark rights and to deter others who may be considering adopting an identical or confusingly similar mark.

As a side note, just because you see the registered trademark symbol next to a trademark, don’t assume that the mark is actually federally registered.  It’s very possible that the registration may have been cancelled, the mark was never registered to begin with, or the mark is merely the subject of a pending trademark application that has not yet matured into a registration.  So, if you ever want to know for sure whether a particular trademark is registered, you’ll have to conduct a thorough and comprehensive federal trademark search.

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What is the “TM” Trademark Symbol and When May I Use It?

You’ve likely seen the “TM” trademark symbol used in combination with various trademarks.  The “TM” trademark symbol is widely utilized by individuals, businesses, and organizations to alert the public of their claim of ownership in a particular mark.  Of course, using a “TM” doesn’t necessarily mean that the user of the mark actually owns any common law or federal trademark rights whatsoever.  For example, if I was to start selling soda under the name “COCA-COLA,” I’d be a dirty little infringer since I clearly cannot obtain any trademark rights in the famous COCA-COLA name.

Once a trademark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), the owner of the trademark may use the “®” registered trademark symbol in place of the “TM” in order to provide notice to the world that the trademark is federally registered.

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Trademark Search – How to Save Time, Money, and Aggravation

Whether you’re preparing to start a new business, or are currently operating a business, you’ve likely created a distinctive name, logo, and/or tagline to represent your company and your products/services.  This unique designation – known as your trademark – differentiates you from your competition and helps establish your reputation in the marketplace.

Your trademarks symbolize and encompass your identity, as well as the qualities and characteristics of your offerings.  You’re going to use your primary trademarks in all of your marketing and branding efforts, including on your website, social media profiles, printed advertisements, signage, and perhaps even on product packaging.  Your ultimate goal is to build positive brand awareness, and your trademarks are the vehicles that allow you to do this.

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Trademark Application – The First Step in Obtaining a US Trademark Registration

If you’re going to engage in a commercial enterprise, you’ll likely spend a great deal of time, money, and resources creating and developing your unique brands (i.e. your trademarks).  After all, your unique brands are what allow you to build consumer loyalty and, in turn, grow and prosper.

Your brands are some of the most valuable assets you’ll ever own because they embody your reputation and symbolize the goodwill your business has with the purchasing public.  And because they’re so valuable, they need to be protected against competitors who may try to imitate or disparage them.  As such, if you haven’t yet sought protection for your brands by filing a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), then I strongly encourage you to consider doing so.

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Trademarkia Search – An Experiment Showing the Inadequacy of Trademarkia

Before adopting, using, and applying to register your trademark, it’s good practice to perform a comprehensive federal trademark search in order to help minimize the risk of being sued for trademark infringement by someone who owns prior rights in an identical or confusingly similar trademark.  Furthermore, a federal trademark search will assist you in determining whether the name, slogan, or tagline you want to use is eligible for registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).

Although you can (and should) hire a trademark attorney to conduct your trademark search and provide you with a legal opinion as to whether your mark is available for registration, another option is to perform the search yourself using an online trademark search engine, such as the one offered by Trademarkia.

However, please allow me to demonstrate why using the Trademarkia search engine has tremendous potential to lead you astray and completely waste your time and hard-earned money.

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LegalZoom and Trademarkia – The Perils of Using Do-It-Yourself Trademark Services

When it comes to do-it-yourself trademark websites, LegalZoom and Trademarkia are two of the most popular ones, thanks in large part to aggressive marketing and a focus on upselling and volume.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with these websites, LegalZoom is a legal document filing service, while Trademarkia is essentially a trademark search engine.

Despite the legal focus of these websites, both LegalZoom and Trademarkia are unable to dispense legal advice.  They even offer a number of disclaimers that prominently emphasize this fact:

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Trademarkia Review (Part 3) – The Trademarkia Trademark Application Filing Service

In this third installment of my series on Trademarkia, I’ll take a look at Trademarkia’s trademark application filing service.  If you haven’t read my first two articles about Trademarkia, you may find it beneficial to do so before continuing.  You can read my earlier articles by clicking below:

Trademarkia Review (Part 1) – Is Trademarkia a Scam?

Trademarkia Review (Part 2) – The Trademarkia Trademark Search

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Trademarkia Review (Part 2) – The Trademarkia Trademark Search

In Part 1 of my Trademarkia review (Is Trademarkia a Scam?), I attempted to uncover the truth about Trademarkia, using its very own words, claims, and explanations.  I explored what Trademarkia professes to be (an online search engine) as well as what Trademarkia declares itself not to be (a provider of legal advice and services).  I also tried to decipher the confusing relationship between Trademarkia and its behind-the-scenes founder/administrator – the law firm of Raj Abhyanker, PC.

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Trademarkia Review (Part 1) – Is Trademarkia a Scam?

Part of my responsibility as a trademark attorney is to help individuals make informed decisions.  My law practice is devoted exclusively to educating people about trademarks, as well as helping them research, register, and defend their marks.

That said, I feel compelled to provide some background on a web-based company called Trademarkia.  Trademarkia is very similar to LegalZoom in that it’s not a law firm.  Also, just like LegalZoom, Trademarkia apparently believes that people who are seeking trademark services can be properly served through a one-size-fits-all approach.

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Trademark Class – How Do I Choose the Correct One?

If you’ve ever attempted to register a trademark, you already know that the USPTO trademark application form requires you to identify the trademark class into which your product or service falls.  Most people look at the portion of the form that asks for the trademark class and, not surprisingly, have no idea what that even means.  Well, the good news is that the classification system is not really all that difficult to understand once you know how to navigate it.

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