Where to Place a Trademark Sign on a Logo

By Laura Payet

Where to Place a Trademark Sign on a Logo

By Laura Payet

Your trademark, whether it is a logo, slogan, symbol, or other design, identifies your brand at a glance. It tells the public that your company is the source of your products or services and distinguishes you from your competitors. Using the appropriate trademark sign or symbol—™, ℠, or ®—puts the public on notice that you are claiming trademark rights in your mark, discouraging others from trying to use it. You get the most benefit from using the trademark sign if you place it where it is obvious and where people expect to see it. Typically, you place the symbol immediately to the right and at the bottom of the logo.

Woman designing logos at desktop computer

What the Symbols Mean

There are three different symbols you can use to claim trademark rights in your logo. The TM symbol stands for trademark and is used for goods or products. The SM symbol means service mark, and you would use it if your company offers services, such as tax preparation or house cleaning. The R in a circle can be used for goods or services and indicates that you have registered your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Why Register a Trademark

Because you want the public to associate your trademark with your business and your products, it is vital to protect it and prevent anyone else from using it. The best way to protect your trademark is to register it with the USPTO. A mark that is federally registered is valid in all 50 states. Alternatively, you can register your trademark in your state if that is the only place you expect to do business. While you can use the TM and SM symbol if your mark is unregistered or if your registration application is pending, by federal law, you can only use the R in a circle if you have a USPTO trademark registration.

Using the Trademark Sign on Your Logo

There are no hard and fast rules about where to place the trademark symbol, but you want it to be obvious without interfering with the look of your logo. According to the International Trademark Association, the symbol is usually placed just to the right and at the bottom of the logo. It may also be placed at the top right if it would otherwise interfere with the logo or design. Always place the sign in the same place relative to your logo and be sure to use it consistently. Using the symbol gives notice that you are claiming trademark rights in your logo and can help you recover monetary damages and lost profits in an enforcement action.

Trademark Registration Process

Remember, registering your trademark is the best way to protect it. And you cannot legally use the R in a circle symbol without federal registration. But federal law governs the application process for registering a trademark with the USPTO, which can be daunting to approach on your own. The first step in the process is to perform a search of existing trademarks to make sure your proposed trademark is not already in use. While you can consult an experienced trademark lawyer, you can also use an online service provider for help with preparing your federal registration application and conducting the required search.

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