What Does TM or R in Circle Mean for a Brand or Logo Design?

Most people notice the small lettered symbols that appear next to logos and slogans. The  ™, ®, and SM symbols represent trademark, registered trademark, and service mark. They are all significant for companies to maintain their ownership of the design.

World’s biggest corporations, such as McDonald’s and Target use extensive trademarks. To protect your brand identity, it is essential that you take the help of an intellectual property attorney who is specialized in patents and trademarks to protect your designs. We will discuss some of the basics here.


A trademark is a sign, design or expression that represents goods or service of a particular brand or company. It licenses and co-brands your intellectual property or products. Your product or service is distinguished from others and prevents from others using similar elements.

Once companies think of a name and logo design for their company, it is useful to trademark it so that nobody else can copy it. Branding and rebranding need a creative team of designers and experts and a whole lot of ideas. Companies cannot invest that much money every time.

Here are the things you can protect through the license: an original logo, symbol, phrase, word, and even a variety of non-conventional elements such as color, smell or sound are all eligible to trademark.

You do not need to spend much on getting your work trademarked. The symbol is used for free and without any paperwork filling. So you can easily put it on your logo design. It tells the public that the logo owner is purposely establishing “common law trademark rights” in the symbol.

Registered trademark

The small R in a circle you see on the right of a logo, symbol or phrase legally protects the works of the owners and states that it has been registered with the  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Once the USPTO registers your mark, you are allowed to use it. However, the process can usually take up to six months. You can even seek damages from infringers in court if you found someone imitating your work. The cost and fees of the registered trademark are different for each country. However, in the U.S it is less than $500 for a do-it-yourself and up to $1,200 to have an IP attorney help you with the legal process. In case if you receive pushback from the USPTO or another company that may want to challenge you using the mark, the cost could even increase.