January 16, 2020,

You have probably seen the following symbols before:®, TM, SM. Read on to find out what they mean and how to use them to help your protect your brand. What is a Trademark?: A trademark is any word, slogan, symbol, design or combination of these which does two things: 1) identifies the source of goods or services in the marketplace; and 2) distinguishes those goods or services from others. A trademark can also be a sound, a color or a smell. Trademark protects the business names, trade names, logos, slogans and product names that you use to market and advertise your products and services to consumers. What do all the symbols mean?: Most people are familiar with the registered trademark symbol: ®. This symbol can only be used if the mark has been registered as a trademark or service mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You may also see the symbols TM or SM used with trademarks. TM means trademark and SM means service mark. What is the difference between a trademark and a service mark?: A trademark denotes the source of goods. A service mark denotes the source of services. For example, as a lawyer, I provide legal services. My clients pay me to provide legal services, not tangible goods or products. As a result, I have two federally registered service marks, not trademarks. However, you will see the term trademark used generally to describe both trademarks and service marks. How do I use TM or SM?: You don’t need a federal trademark registration in order to gain legal rights in a mark. You gain legally enforceable rights in a mark by consistent and continuous use of that mark in commerce over time. The longer you use the mark, the more rights you gain. By using TM or SM you are putting everyone who sees your mark or slogan on notice that: 1. you are using your mark as a trademark or service mark; and 2. you are claiming all common law rights in your mark. This prevents an “innocent” or “I didn’t know that name was a trademark/service mark” defense to a claim of trademark infringement.: In order to show the consuming public that you are claiming all common law trademark rights in your business name, product name, brand name or logo, it should always be written in a special way (either in all caps or in quotes) and/or by using a superscript “TM” or “SM” as appropriate. Here are some examples of how you can write or depict your mark so that it is clear that you are claiming all of your common law rights and using it as a trademark or service mark:

JOHNSON MOSS (use all caps)

“JOHNSON MOSS” (use quotation marks)

JOHNSON MOSSSM (use the SM (service mark) symbol)

JOHNSON MOSSTM (use the TM (trademark) symbol)