The TM symbol can be used to put others on notice that you’ve filed for trademark protection of a particular word, logo, slogan, or any combination thereof. It may also be used by business owners who feel that they have common law rights to a particular brand or trademark.
Again, the TM symbol does not mean that the trademark is federally registered or protected. The person or brand using the symbol is simply putting others on notice that they may have that right, either because they used the trademark first on a particular good or service, or they have a registration pending with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
But, what happens if a proposed trademark goes through the formal registration process and is ultimately rejected by the USPTO? Or, what if the trademark application is suspended for any reason? Must the company or brand stop using the TM symbol?
You might be surprised to learn that the answer is, no, they do not have to stop using the TM symbol. The owner of the good or service may continue to use TM behind their trademark application even if the registration is refused or suspended.
A note of caution, however, if the company or brand continues to use the trademark (with or without the symbol), it could expose them to legal issues in the future. For example, if the trademark application is denied because it was too similar to one that’s already federally registered and the business continues to use the brand knowing such, they could open themselves up to additional damages in an infringement lawsuit.
When in doubt, it’s always best to consult with an experienced trademark attorney. If you have questions or you’d like to schedule an appointment, we invite you to contact our office at (888) 666-0062 to schedule a video conference or in-person meeting at our Charleston, SC law firm.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.