FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Difference Between TM and R in a Circle When to Use Which

Many alleged experts say you should only trademark your brand when it becomes big and successful.

We often see brands displaying TM, which these experts claim is sufficient.

So, why are other brands sporting the circle R icon?


The Difference

The R in a circle indicates a registered trademark with the USTPO. When you register your brand, you can legally use the circle R symbol, but it’s not required. The symbol tells everyone that the government recognizes your ownership and rights to your brand. It means you can enforce your brand rights in court.

There are three scenarios where you might see a TM sign with a brand.

First, the owner of a registered trademark may choose to show TM with their brand. Perhaps they lack motivation. Maybe they don’t want to redo all their marketing and corporate materials for the update (a common situation). Maybe they don’t understand the difference between the two, or they have some specific reason to make this choice.

Using TM with a registered trademark is our first scenario and legal use. It is not permitted to use a circle R with an unregistered mark.

Secondly, the TM symbol is their best choice when the brand owner has a pending trademark application. They may have a recent filing and are waiting on the process, or it may be long denied.

At least they attempted registration and continue to try and protect their brand.

The third scenario is when someone merely slaps a TM next to a name, phrase, or logo without any attempt at registering their brand.

Which Is It?

How can you tell which of the above scenarios is in play with any specific situation? You need to do a basic trademark search to find a trademark application for that brand using the TM.

Finding a registration under that name indicates the owner is more serious than they appear. If you discover a pending application, you can check its current status. How long has it been since its filing? Is it approved? If not, why?

If you cannot find a registration or application, likely, the business owner doesn’t own the brand. The TM symbol shows the world that you want to own this brand. The circle R symbol tells the world this is your brand, and you own it.

The Danger

While the TM indicator has its place and provides some limited protection, someone else can swoop in and register your brand while you’re playing around with TM. Chances are, you can’t do much about this.

By employing the TM, you are saying to the world that you value your brand but not enough to protect it. It’s like a social media posting that says, “I just came up with a great name for my business, Superduper, and I’m going to build a great website So, don’t register that name for yourself because I’d be very upset.

Avoid the potential damage and spend ten bucks registering your domain name so no one else can. And register your trademark so you can protect it adequately with the circle R symbol.


Using TM is a great option if you want to pretend that you own a brand.

If you’re serious about your business and brand, you must turn your TM’s into® by trademarking your brand. Trademarking your brand is the only way to protect it; that’s why trademarks were created.

Trademark Factory®’s ™’s into ®s Brand Protection Formula is a unique, proprietary method for transitioning from vulnerable TM’s to the complete protection of a ® with a single all-inclusive flat rate 100% cash-back guarantee of successful trademark registration.

Contact us today to fully protect your brand.


Disclaimer: Please note that this post and this video are not and are not intended as legal advice. Your situation may be different from the facts assumed in this post or video. Your reading this post or watching this video does not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and Trademark Factory International Inc., and you should not rely on this post or this video as the only source of information to make important decisions about your intellectual property.