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How to Mark Your TrademarkTrademark Symbol

The purpose of registering your trademark is to avoid confusion among consumers and to orrectly identify your trademark. There are two symbols commonly used to mark trademarks: ® and ™. Everyone who uses a trademark symbol should know at least the following four things:

  1. The correct trademark symbol to use
  2. Why trademark symbols are used
  3. Where trademark symbols are placed
  4. How to insert a trademark symbol into your document

Which to use: ™ or ® ?

Your business can use the ™ symbol whenever it wishes to claim a trademark. You do not need to file any paperwork to receive permission to use the ™ symbol. Use of the ™ symbol can put your competition on notice that your business considers a mark to be your trademark. The ® symbol may only be used after the US Government grants a federal registration certificate. The ® symbol may not be used while the federal application is pending. Additionally, the ® symbol may only be used in connection with the goods and services listed on the registration certificate.

Why use symbols? To Notify Competitors

Even though a trademark symbol is not required, always use the correct trademark symbol with your trademark. Your competitors will be put on notice of your trademark and then they can respect your intellectual property. Likewise, you can prevent your customers from becoming confused by respecting the trademarks of others, whether they use the ® or ™ symbol. Importantly, for registered trademarks, use of the ® symbol may be necessary to claim damages and court costs if your business has to sue a competitor. If you have not properly provided notice of your trademark, you may not be able to obtain money, damages, or recover your costs.

Where do you place ™ or ® symbols?

When using your trademark, place it prominently, so people will notice it immediately. Either symbol is usually placed to the upper right of the word, logo or other mark. Sometimes companies list the trademarks used in the material along with the owner in the footer of their website or the bottom of a printed page. For example, “Coca-Cola® and the contour bottle are registered trademarks of The Coca-Cola Company.” Remember, do not claim that your trademark is registered (or use the ® symbol) unless it has actually completed registration with the US Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov). Only marks that have been filed, approved, and granted the registration certificate by the US Trademark Office may claim to be registered in the US.

Three placement techniques

There are usually three good ways to notify competitors.
  1. Placement of the ™ or ® symbol immediately adjacent to the trademark, every time it is used.
  2. Placement of ™ or ® or * (asterisk) or †(dagger) or ‡ (double dagger) symbol right near the first use of the trademark. Then provide a footnote that describes the trademark.
  3. Placement in other nearby or adjacent areas, like sub-scripted, may work well and could look better.
    A footnote description might read like this for federally registered marks, when the most prominent use of the trademark is marked with a dagger.


    † NIKE and the swoosh logo are trademarks registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.
    Or, alternately, you can use the abbreviation:
    †NIKE and the swoosh logo. Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.
    If you do not use ® (the first placement technique) with your registered trademark, you must use the phrase “registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office” or its abbreviated form “Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.” for all US registered trademarks.
    Or a footnote description might read like this for marks not federally registered
    † The crown logo is a trademark of MyCompany, Inc.

Inserting ® or ™ into your document

Your word processor has an “insert symbol” function or “Special Character” function in the Edit or Insert menu. These functions let you find all sorts of symbols including the ® or ™ symbol. However, I find copy and paste to be faster. That is, you can copy and paste the symbol right from here into your document.

How often do I need to use the symbol for the mark?

Printed Materials-

In a document where the mark is listed many times, you do not need to use the symbol with every instance of the mark. Use it the first time to give notice it is a trademark, then occasionally thereafter. Generally on longer materials once per page is recommended. This can easily be accomplished by having a header or footer with the mark listed.
Many companies list, in the header or footer, all the marks included in a document noting trademark ownership: Scotch and Magic Tape are Registered Trademarks of 3M Corporation.

Electronic Materials-

Once per web page. On a website, large companies with many trademarks will have a separate page which lists all of their marks- Here is the example of Google

Social Media

Most companies do not use the symbols in blog posts, status, or tweet