Trademark and Copyright Symbols

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Often times the name of a product or creative work will have a symbol following it.  There are a variety of symbols available for use but each can only be used in specific instances.  These symbols not only attach some prestige to the affixed items but also serve as notice to the public.

Copyrighted works can be accompanied by the © symbol.  This symbol was introduced in 1909 by the United States Copyright Act.  However, it was not until 1954 that the © symbol could replace the word “copyright” to provide notice to the public.  In addition to adding the © symbol, the year of the first publication of the copyrighted work and the author’s name can be added as well.  This used to be mandatory in the United States but once the US signed the Berne Convention in 1989 it is no longer necessary.

There is more than one symbol available for use with trademarks.  Anyone with common law usage of a trade mark can use the TM symbol after their mark.  For service marks, the SM symbol is appropriate instead of the TM symbol.  Those who register their mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office can use the (R) symbol with their mark.  This mark indicates federal protection across the entire United States.

Use of these symbols is important to protect your intellectual property.  The use of these symbols places notices on others that using the protected property will be infringement.  Proper use of copyright and trademark symbols will make it easier to settle with infringers or to receive higher damages in court. If you are interested in learning more about protecting your work or if you have violated a copyrighted or trademarked work, then please call our office for further information.