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Leveraging Inspiration, the Inspired Patent Podcast

In this episode of Leveraging Inspiration, the Inspired Patent Podcast, we delve into the world of trademarks and how to maximize trademark protection. As we navigate through the complexities of trademarks, we explore the distinction between TM (trademark) and ® (registered trademark) and provide essential tips for proper trademark usage. As the world increasingly shifts towards online businesses, securing trademark rights becomes crucial in distinguishing your brand from competitors in the marketplace.

The Surge in Trademark Filings:

In recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in trademark filings. With more people turning to e-commerce and online platforms to sell their products and services, the need for trademarks to protect brand identity has amplified. This surge in filings has resulted in longer wait times at the United States Trademark Office, currently averaging around nine months for application review. This delay can potentially impact your brand strategy and launch timeline. Seeking guidance from a trademark attorney can help expedite the process by conducting thorough research and assessing any potential risks associated with your brand.

Understanding TM: Claiming Trademark Rights:

Even without a federally registered trademark, you are still entitled to claim trademark rights by using the designation TM (trademark) or SM (service mark) for services. This practice is not only acceptable but encouraged, as it notifies others that you are actively using the mark as a brand identifier. It is important to note that trademarks are territorially specific, meaning that a company may use TM in countries where they haven’t obtained formal registration but hold a registered trademark elsewhere.

Utilizing ®: Once Registered, How to Use it:

Upon successfully obtaining a federal trademark registration, you can start using the ® symbol next to your brand. This symbol signifies that your trademark has gained legal protection and holds exclusive rights in the United States. Adding the ® to your branding not only solidifies your brand identity but also deters potential infringers from using similar marks. It is advised to consult with a trademark attorney on the proper use of the ® symbol to maximize its effectiveness.

Beware of Trademark Scams:

As you proceed with your trademark application, it is essential to be cautious of trademark scams. Once your application is filed, some of your information becomes publicly accessible, making you vulnerable to scammers. These scammers may send misleading correspondence that appears official, tricking you into unnecessary expenditures. Working with a reputable trademark attorney can help protect you from falling victim to such scams. Be vigilant and always consult professionals if you receive any suspicious trademark-related communication.

Proper Usage of Trademarks:

To maintain and enforce your trademark rights, it is crucial to use your trademark correctly. Trademarks should never be used as nouns; instead, they should be used as adjectives alongside a generic term. This practice avoids diluting your brand and helps establish your trademark’s source identifier. Apple’s experience with the term “Live Photo” serves as a cautionary example of losing control over a trademark due to improper usage. Training your employees on the proper use of your trademark is imperative to strengthen your brand and avoid potential confusion.

Coexistence of Similar Brands:

In some cases, multiple brands may share the same name without being confusingly similar if they operate in different markets or offer unrelated products and services. An example is the existence of three different companies named Trico, each operating in a distinct industry. As long as there is no likelihood of confusion among consumers, companies can coexist with similar names without infringing on trademark rights. However, it is always advisable to seek legal counsel to evaluate the potential risks associated with similar brand names.


Trademark protection plays a crucial role in establishing and safeguarding your brand identity. In an era of heightened online business activities, properly utilizing trademarks and understanding the distinctions between TM and ® can significantly impact your brand’s success. By consulting with a trademark attorney, conducting comprehensive research, and adhering to best practices in trademark usage, you can navigate the trademark landscape effectively and make informed decisions to protect your intellectual property. Remember, trademarks are an essential tool in leveraging inspiration and ensuring business growth.