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What Is a Trademark?

A trademark is any word, symbol, phrase, design, or a combination that identifies a good or service. A trademark can also be a sound (think of the NBC® chimes), a color (the blue box for Tiffany® jewelry), a smell
(Play-Doh®), or any other thing that is representative of a source of a good or service. The main reason trademarks exist is to avoid consumer confusion of the sources for goods or services. Remember: A trademark refers to goods; a service mark refers to services.

When should I use TM, SM, or ®?

If you are using a trademark that is federally registered with the Trademark Office, you should use the ® symbol by placing it in a superscript or subscript on the right of the trademark.

If you are using a trademark that is not registered, you should use the TM symbol for goods and the SM symbol for services. The TM or SM lets consumers and competitors know you are claiming rights to the trademark or service mark.

Category: Intellectual Property, Trademarks