What Symbol Should I Use To Show My Intellectual Property Rights?

At McDermott IP Law, we’re all about protecting client innovation through the use of Intellectual Property. One of the questions we get asked most often is “How do I signify to others that I have Intellectual Property rights?” Another way to phrase this question more simply might be “Which of those symbols do I use on my logo and slogan?”

The answer, of course, depends on your situation. Depending on what Intellectual Property you have and how it currently is protected, the way you signify it varies. Let’s start by identifying which Intellectual Property you’re looking to notate.


A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, design, or combination that distinguishes your business from everyone else on the market. Your trademark is what notes you as being unique. A trademark could be your company’s name, logo, slogan, or design of your most popular product. Trademarks can be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which gives the owner the sole legal right to use them.

Trademarks do not have to be registered in order to be used. If your trademark is not yet registered with the USPTO, including if you have filed for registration but not yet been approved, you can indicate that with the TM or SM symbol. The TM is placed on trademarks, which apply to physical goods, and the SM is placed on service marks, which apply to nonphysical services. These symbols indicate you are using your trademark and taking it seriously.

If your trademark has been successfully registered with the USPTO, you can indicate that with the R symbol. The R stands for “Registered Trademark.” Placing it on your trademark indicates that no one else can use it without your prior permission.


Copyright protects original artistic works that are set in a tangible medium. Tangible does not necessarily mean physical. Instead, it means artistic works that are fixed in one form and will continue to be able to be experienced in that form. Copyright can protect books, films, songs, video games, software, phone apps, dance moves, architecture, poetry, blog articles, and much more.

Copyright can be registered with the United States Copyright Office. While copyright does not have to be registered in order to be used, registration provides greater protection. Creators can use the C symbol on their artistic works to indicate copyright protection. The C symbol applies to both registered and unregistered copyrighted works, with no distinction between the two.

Protecting Client Innovation

Symbolising your Intellectual Property is one step on a thorough journey, from identifying to registering to keeping. If you are ready to protect your Intellectual Property, contact McDermott IP Law today! We are ready to safeguard and enforce the valuable Intellectual Property you have created.

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McDermott IP Law

We are committed to providing professional and authoritative legal advice to our clients. With decades of experience, we deliver sophisticated, cost-effective, and prompt solutions to your Intellectual Property needs.

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