My business does not own a federal registration
Your business may use the TM symbol or SM symbol (service mark) any time after you begin using your mark in commerce. In other words, neither use requires registration. In fact, it’s suggested that if you have not obtained a registration for your trademark you should use either TM or SM to signify your claim of ownership. These symbols give notice to third-parties that you are claiming the name as your trademark/servicemark. Such, use can help in establishing common law rights. The United States Patent and Trademark Office does not regulate the use of TM or SM. TM (Trademark) refers to businesses selling goods, whereas SM (Servicemark) refers to selling services.
- Use ™ or ℠ depending on whether you sell goods or services, respectively
My business owns a federal registration
A federal trademark registration reserves the trademark for your business use and affords you certain benefits. Only federally registered trademarks may use the R circle symbol (®). Those using the R circle symbol without a federal registration may be committing fraud.
- Use ®
Business trademark symbol summary
While you are procuring your rights to a federal registration use the TM symbol or SM symbol. Lastly, if you seek nationwide ownership of your trademark your best option is to obtain a federal trademark registration.