VW Blog

A VW Primer on Trademarks

February 12, 2012   |   By Vela Wood

So, what’s the difference between ™ and ®, you ask?

For the most part, it’s simple – filing fees.

A trademark (or service mark) is a common law right that is established by using the mark in commerce and letting the public know that the mark is yours.  You are essentially putting your flag in the ground and laying a claim to your property.  Thus, you are not required to gain approval from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to use ™.  In order to use the ®, however, you are required to gain approval through the USPTO by filing an application.

So the next question is – if my mark is protected by using ™ why should I file an application with the USPTO?  Well, if your brand will be used across the nation, then you will want to file an application with the USPTO to protect your mark in the US.  For instance, if you have a product that will be sold in stores throughout the country, then you should probably file an application to register your mark with the USPTO.

If, however, you are only using your mark in Texas, then a simple ™ may suffice to protect your mark.  You can also take the extra step and file a trademark application with the state of Texas to have your mark registered throughout the state of Texas.  It is important to note, however, that you cannot use ® if your mark is registered by the state of Texas.  You would still need to use ™.  The ® is reserved for a federal trademark.  The ® is the best evidence to show everyone that this trademark is yours because the federal government said so.

This is only a brief introduction into the world of Trademarks.  In subsequent blogs, I will address common concerns amongst our clients, including, but not limited to, Is Anybody Else Using My Mark Now?, What if There is a Similar Mark but It’s In a Different Field? and The Likelihood of Confusion Test.

Please note that the text above is informational only and does not constitute legal advice.


Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademarks
Vela Wood

Vela | Wood is a boutique corporate law firm that focuses on small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups.