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Trademarks: What do the trademark symbols mean?

Q:  I have a new product and I would like to start using a trademark on the product when it hits the shelves.  What is the difference between the ™ and ® symbols and can I use either symbol on my product?

A:  A ™ symbol can be used on a trademark that is not federally registered.  If your trademark is unregistered, or you have a trademark application that is pending registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark, you may use the ™ symbol on your mark.  The ™ symbol serves as notice to others that you are using a word, slogan or design as a trademark, and the symbol deters third parties from using the same or similar mark.  Once a trademark is federally registered, you may use the ® symbol as notice to others that the mark is federally registered.  In fact, the failure to use the ® symbol may act as a limitation of damages in the event of infringement in that your damages may start running later (such as after the infringer receives actual notice of the infringement charge) rather than if notice had been given by use of the ® symbol.

Submitted by:

Kimberly S. Grimsley, Esq.
Bowie & Jensen, LLC
29 W. Susquehanna Ave., Ste. 600
Towson, Maryland 21204

Published with permission from Bowie & Jensen, LLC a LawPact member firm.

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