Using a trademark or service mark symbol properly in connection with a good or service is important to protecting and maintaining the value of a mark. Failure to provide proper notice of a trademark, each time a federally registered mark is used, may encumber the prosecution of a trademark infringement action, by allowing an infringer to claim innocent infringement as a defense. If proper notice is not prominently displayed, the infringer may claim ignorance of trademark rights, and damages available to the trademark owner may be reduced.
What is the proper symbol to use in connection with a good or service? According to United States Trademark law, the owner of a mark registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office may give notice that the mark is registered by displaying with the mark the words “Registered in United States Patent and Trademark Office,” the abbreviation: “Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.,” or the letter R enclosed within a circle, e.g., ®.
The registration symbol should be used only on or in connection with the goods or services that are listed in the registration. The federal registration symbol may not be used with marks that are not actually registered in the USPTO. Even if an application is pending, the registration symbol may not be used until the mark is registered. Improper use of the federal registration symbol, ®, that is deliberate and intends to deceive or mislead the public or the USPTO may expose an individual or business to legal liability including lawsuits for fraud.
Terms such as “trademark,” “service mark”, “trademark applied for,” “™” and “℠” may be used regardless of whether a mark is registered. These are not official or statutory symbols of federal registration.