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What is the Difference Between a Registered Trademark (®) and a Trademark (™)?

A new line of baseball bats can be considered trademarked immediately, but it will lack the legal protection of a registered trademark.
Part of an application to register a trademark.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2014
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Essentially, the difference between a registered trademark, designated by the symbol ®, and a trademark, designated by ™, is the word "registered." A registered trademark has been officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or its foreign equivalent. A trademark (™) may be in the process of becoming registered with the USPTO, or it may never be. There is no current law requiring a company or inventor to obtain a registration for their product lines, but replacing a ™ with a ® does offer more legal protection.

The difference between the two is somewhat similar to a copyright or a patent. Once a piece of art is painted or a written work is printed, for instance, it automatically receives copyright protection. In this same way, any new product with a distinctive and unique name can be considered to be trademarked, in the ™ sense at least. A company can put out a new line of baseball bats called "Sluggos," for example, complete with a graphic of a large baseball player. The graphic and the name Sluggos would be considered a trademark, and the company could put the ™ designation on it immediately.

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The problem with not registering a trademark, however, lies in the competitive nature of business. Another baseball bat company could also produce a bat called "Swaggos" or even "Sluggos" and use a very similar graphic of a baseball player. While the first company may have some proof that their bats were marketed first, they may not be able to prove infringement since they did not register the trademark with the USPTO first.

A registered trademark, on the other hand, would provide the original baseball bat company with much more legal protection. Once the trademark is fully processed by the USPTO or foreign trademark offices, it can display the ®. The second company would have been able to research the USPTO's archives to determine if their own suggested trademark were legally available. Since "Sluggos" with the distinctive graphic would have appeared as registered, the second baseball bat company would be compelled to select another name and design.

A trademark designated ™ is a notice to others that the product's name and design are the exclusive property of the company, but a registered trademark ® provides notice that it has indeed been registered. Only a legally registered one can be represented by the ® symbol, and even then it must be renewed after a number of years to continue enjoying legal protection.

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Discuss this Article

anon331896
Post 25

How can I display my company's registered trademark on my business's Facebook profile name?

OeKc05
Post 24

For a long time, I was unaware that there were shortcuts to make a registered trademark symbol. I went the long way around and spent way too much time creating them in the documents I had to type at work.

I would actually open a document in a design program, type an 'R' and draw a circle around it. I would painstakingly position the circle so that the 'R' was exactly in the center, and then I would flatten the layers and save the file so that I could import it into my text document.

I was happy to learn the keyboard shortcuts for this. I also learned there was one for making the trademark symbol, which I had previously done by putting 'TM' in superscript.

Oceana
Post 23
There are too many thieves in the world for me to ever settle for anything less than an actual copyright. I want a registered trademark next to my stuff, because I view a regular trademark as an invitation to thieves!
kylee07drg
Post 22
@JackWhack – I'm a graphic designer, and I would just like to add that you can put either a registered trademark or a regular trademark symbol either in the upper right corner or the lower right corner beside a logo. I've designed ads for many companies, and I've seen it done both ways.

Also, if you are going to place the TM or the ® in text next to a company or product name, you should use superscript and put it out to the right of the name. This way, the letters don't get confused with something else, and the reader can easily identify that they are referring to a trademark.

JackWhack
Post 21

@wendski2 – You can always find the registered trademark to the right side of any logo, and this is the same in both the UK and the US. Also, a plain old trademark would also go to the right side.

anon311229
Post 20

To simulate an R or a C in a circle you can use parentheses like (R) or (C). To type the actual symbols in most word processors (Notepad, MS Word, etc.), set your keyboard to US International (rather than US English). Then Right Alt+R gives you the ® symbol and right Alt+C give you the © symbol. Note that in this mode though, the keyboard doesn't let you use quotes or tilde or carat symbols (or at least I couldn't figure out how).

Also when in a browser like Firefox, it reverts back to using a normal US English keyboard layout within the browser (has some kind of keyboard settings override built in to Firefox). For that, you'll have to select the special character in Character Map instead of using US International Keyboard mode (or else use International mode in Notepad and then copy it from Notepad to Firefox).

anon306228
Post 18

What is the difference if I register my trademark under my name rather than that of the company and as a separate issue, can I sell or give it to the company at a later date?

anon73680
Post 14

i have artwork that i would like to post to a new internet site I'm creating- but I'm afraid that some folks may steal my art direct from my sight? copyright or trademark? idea?

resco2007
Post 11

Is it legal to use a self generated Trademark on your website?

anon42337
Post 10

For Mac users: The keyboard combo is option+r for ® (registered), option+g for © (copyright), and option+2 for ™ (trademark). The plus sign means 'and' so don't actually press the plus sign!

anon36612
Post 9

its Alt + 0169 and Alt + 0174

anon32248
Post 8

*Hold* Down ALT then Press 174, then release the ALT will give you ®

wendski2
Post 7

Can anyone tell me where the (R) is supposed to be displayed when with a logo - on the right or left?

Or does it matter? Is it different in UK & USA?

Thanks

anon27129
Post 6

ALT 169 will give you ®

anon25774
Post 5

How do I type in Trademark or Registered on my Keyboard? Thanks.

allthumbs
Post 4

How do i type in the registered trademark symbol on the keyboard?

anon23137
Post 2

Does that mean that you now have an unofficial trademark for any baseball bats called 'Sluggos'? Hahahahahahaha!

anon2656
Post 1

Im setting up a business and have a name but did a search and found that someone in the Dominican uses that name but doesn't look trademark. Can I use and trademark it in the UK?

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