Use of the Trademark Registration ® Symbol

If your mark is federally registered—on either the Principal or Supple­mental Register—you have the right to use the symbol ® with your mark and should begin doing so immediately. If your mark is not on either of the federal trademark registers, you may not use the ® symbol.

The ® symbol, which lets others know that the mark is federally registered, is usually printed in a very tiny type—next to the mark. By placing the ® next to your mark, you place potential infringers on notice as to your federal registration and improve your chances of collecting damages or a defendant’s profits if it is ever necessary to take an infringer to court. However, you won’t lose ownership of the mark by omitting this notice.

It is enough that the symbol appears at least once on each label, tag, or advertisement. You don’t need to use the symbol on every occurrence of your mark. Incidentally, instead of using the ® symbol, you may state that “[your mark] is a registered trademark of [your name].” This has the same legal effect as the ® symbol, but it takes up much more space.

Be sure to specify how you want the symbol used when hiring advertising services or printers or when you allow others to use your mark—for example, on a website or in conjunction with another product or service. It is your responsibility to make sure the world knows your mark is registered. However, it isn’t necessary to include the symbol when your mark is being referred to for reasons that have nothing to do with the underlying goods and services. For instance, this book refers to many marks, including McDonald’s, without an accompanying registration symbol, because the reason we are referring to the marks is to discuss their characteristics as marks and not to sell the goods or services associated with them.

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