You’ve probably seen the symbols TM or ®. If not, go look at pretty much anything you own. You’ll find those symbols, I guarantee it.
Some Trademark Basics:
Trademarks are all about source recognition and distinguishing one brand from another. Trademarks allow consumers to know that what they are buying is trustworthy and is a brand they are familiar with. For example- all Taco Bells look the same so you know you are in a Taco Bell. Nike always has the same logo and tagline on their products.
Trademarks protect logos, taglines, brand names, product names, and other things, such as trade dress, etc. A trademark is literally just those symbols next to things. Sure, you get a certificate, but the concept is kind of abstract. You’re not physically getting anything but a symbol that protects you from infringement.
All About That ®:
Okay, back to the symbols. TM stands for Trademark, but a common law or unregistered one. Any mark (i.e. name, logo) gets a common law trademark once it is used in commerce. However, before you get all cocky, TM offers less protection than a registered trademark.
The registered symbol is ®. You can only use this with registered trademarks. Not with common law or a pending trademark.
Reasons to Care:
- Trademarks deter others from infringing on you.
- People will recognize your brand and won’t be confused.
- It gives you the right (and duty) to protect your trademark.
- They make your mark distinctive.
- It’s a best practice!
- They offer national protection.