I get asked all the time about how client’s should use their trademark.  Proper use is important to building and maintaining a strong trademark.

Here are basic tips for using a trademark:

– Use the proper symbol: ® if registered; if not registered use TM if the trademark is applied to a physical product, SM if the trademark advertises services

Use the symbol prominently: Use it on letterhead, business cards, front of webpage, slide presentations, videos, white papers, etc. You need not use it every time, but it can’t hurt. Generally the symbol goes on the upper right shoulder of the name or logo, but there is no strict rule for placement.

Distinguish it from other words: When a trademark is used in text, make it stand out – use bold, italics, a different font (or a combination of these) to make it stand out.

Include information about trademark rights in agreements: In contacts with employees, partners, clients, vendors, and others, note explicitly that “XYZ is a trademark of ABC, Inc.” and add “registered” if applicable. That way there is no dispute about what is yours as you enter into the relationship.

Do not use it “generically”: Try not to use the trademark as a noun, but rather as an adjective, such as “Kleenex® brand tissues” or Frappucino® blended beverage”. The goal is to avoid becoming the category of products or services and weakening the strength of the brand or even becoming generic.

Brag: Having a registered trademark is a great thing! Don’t be shy, tell others as often as possible. It enhances the value of the brand and the trademark.


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0 thoughts on “What is the proper way to use a trademark?

  1. Clients plural doesn’t require an apostrophe. 🙂

    There was a big brouhaha on the AboveTheLaw comments to the SmallLaw/Small Law throwdown recently. One of the commenters ridiculed the demand letter because it didn’t put (R) after every use of the SMALLLAW mark. What’s your thought on that? It seems unnecessary to me. But the guy seemed to think that without the magic (R) you were somehow eroding your own rights, perhaps even if you referred to it as a registered mark repeatedly.

    I’ll say that I think it’s silly to add (R) every time, but I just had outside counsel at a major firm do that in a demand letter for me. I didn’t remove it, but not because I thought it was a good practice.

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