Legal Question in Intellectual Property in North Carolina

The following question deals with intellectual property law in general - let's stick with federal law. Would an intellectual property attorney give me a "quick and dirty" lesson on the correct usage of "trademark" or "TM" superscript, "servicemark" or "SM" superscript, "registered" or "R" within a circle superscript, and "copyright" or "C" within a circle superscript? I grasp the general concept of the difference between a copyright and patent, but am sort of confused between usage of "R" and "TM". Thanks!

Asked on 9/06/10, 1:36 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Kevin B. Murphy Franchise Foundations, APC

And IP attorney will tell you the use of the "R" within a circle is used to indicate a federally registered trademark (or service mark). The use of "TM" is used to assert common law trademark rights when a mark is not federally registered. Consult with an an IP attorney for specifics.

Kevin B. Murphy, B.S., M.B.A., J.D. - Mr. Franchise

Franchise Attorney

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Answered on 9/12/10, 12:21 pm
Clifford Hyra Hyra IP, PLC

Yes, the is the registration symbol, which indicates that you have placed the logo, brand name, or other trademark it is used with on the federal register. If you have not gone through the trademark registration process, you cannot use this symbol.

If you have a brand name, logo, slogan, etc., that you consider a trademark but have not registered, you should use TM or SM. A trademark is used in connection with the sale of products or services to establish your brand and indicate that you are the source of those products or services.

TM stands for "trademark" and is used with products, while SM stands for "service mark" and is used with services. There is no real regulation of the use of these marks, so feel free to use them with anything that you consider a trademark (or service mark).

is the copyright symbol and may be used in conjunction with original works of authorship, such as designs, texts, photographs, sculptures, etc. It is typically used to deter copying by indicating that you are reserving your copyrights, in the following format: [Year of publication] [Your name], e.g. 2010 Hyra IP, PLC.

Trademarks protect against others using a similar mark in commerce, while copyrights protect against the copying and distribution of the copyrighted work by anyone. Logos may be protected by both trademark and copyright. For more information on the difference, please see

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Answered on 9/13/10, 6:43 am

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