Use of the TM or SM Symbol for Unregistered Trademarks

You may use TM (for trademark) or SM (for service mark) alongside an unregistered mark to show that you claim ownership of the mark and intend to assert your rights against imitators. These symbols are usually placed in smaller type to the right of the mark, as in The Purple WorldTM. Use of the TM or SM symbol provides no statutory legal benefits, but it warns would-be copiers that the name or other device is already being claimed as a mark, and in most instances this will keep others away from the mark. As with the ® symbol, you don’t need to place the TM or SM symbol next to every appearance of your trademark. Nothing can be more distracting than seeing the same word appear over and over again on a page with a little TM mark appearing next to it. The principle in using these symbols is to make sure you get the “lay off—this is a trademark” message across once, or if there are many pages, at most once on every page. There is no rule for how often the symbol should be used; common sense should do fine.


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