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How to Use the Trademark Symbol to Protect Your Intellectual Property on the Web

As a business, you want to protect your intellectual property on the Web, especially on your own website. Oftentimes, that involves with the use of a trademark symbol on a product name or logo. But many businesses are not sure which symbol to use, when to use the symbol, or how many times to repeat it. To assist you in understanding the proper use, our good friends at the Law Firm of Brouse McDowell have shared some pointers on trademark use.

How many times do I need to display the Trademark symbol (™, ®) on my website?

You should display your trademark it at least once, in a prominent location. 
If it is a logo that is in the header or prominently displayed on a page, the trademark notice should definitely be used. From there, just use good judgment. You don't want it to be distracting if you have a lot of text. You don’t need to have it displayed after every instance of your product every time it appears on your website.

You should also include a mention of the trademark in the footer of your webpage.

Something to the effect of:

"ABC trademarks are federally registered trademark owned by ABC Company. ABC Company also claims trademark rights in the following: [list those that are not registered but considered trademarks].  Any unauthorized use is expressly prohibited."

You should also include links to your general IP (Intellectual Property) disclaimers already displayed on your general website terms and conditions page.

When should a ™ symbol or a ® symbol be used with a trademark?

A registration with The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) determines whether a ™ symbol or a ® symbol should be used.  Registration at the USPTO occurs after an application has been filed and the USPTO determines whether an applied-for mark meets the requirements for a federal registration.  

The ™ symbol claims rights to use a mark regardless of whether an application has been filed with the USPTO to register the mark.
The ™ symbol can be for an unregistered trademark symbol that is used to promote a brand or goods.  Similarly, the SM symbol can be an unregistered service mark that is used to promote or brand a service.  If the mark is unregistered or if registration cannot be confirmed, then the ™ symbol should be used. 

The ® symbol may only be used after the USPTO has registered the trademark or service mark, but not while the application is pending.
For marks with the ® symbol, the USPTO has reviewed the application and determined that it meets the requirements for federal registration.  The registered symbol ® alerts the public that the trademark or service mark is federally registered and protected. The improper use of the federal trademark registration symbol ® that is deliberate and intends to deceive or mislead the public or the USPTO is fraud.

Because trademark registrations may become abandoned, registration of a trademark should be confirmed before using the ® symbol.
To determine whether the ® symbol should be used, contact your legal counsel or the person who manages corporate records. Confirmation can always be done through the USPTO’s website. If a mark is not listed on the USPTO’s registrar, the ™ symbol must be used.

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