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Home » WHAT’S A TRADEMARK? » Lesson 1: Understanding Trademarks

Lesson 1: Understanding Trademarks

What is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about using a trademark? The letters TM at the end of a name do not mean that you are automatically protected. I see people who tack on the TM and they think, “I’m ready. I’m set. I’m protected”. I don’t need to do anything else. The truth of the matter is you don’t know what you don’t know. Tip: The best protection of your trademark is with an Ⓡ, a registered trademark, which you can only use if you have acquired a trademark registration! 

Unlocking the truth about trademarks is crucial in the business landscape. One common misconception revolves around the letters TM. Contrary to popular belief, the TM symbol doesn’t automatically grant protection. Let’s delve into this misunderstanding and explore the key differences between TM and the coveted Ⓡ symbol.

What does a ™ symbol mean? If you want some protection, even a limited protection of sorts, you can use the TM, but it doesn’t mean that you’re protected with that name on a nationwide basis. A ™ means you have what we call ‘common law trademark rights’. 

Common law trademark rights are not the same as the protection that is conferred when you obtain a trademark registration certificate from the United States Patent and Trademark Office which confers national protection. Don’t be confused when you see the TM because that is not the same as having a circle R, Ⓡ, which you get when you receive your registration certificate from the US Patent and Trademark Office. 

For more details, you may click the links below:

Search a trademark at the USPTO

Search details about a trademark

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