If you’ve ever browsed the aisles of a grocery store, chances are you’ve passed by a few dozen registered trademark symbols without even noticing. Look around right now, wherever you are. Is there a can of Coca-Cola sitting on your end table? A bottle of Advil there on your desk? Are you drinking water from a Nalgene water bottle? Any of these items will bear the subtle but familiar ® denoting a registered trademark of the brand.  This is the symbol you can (and should) use once your trademark registers with the USPTO, whether it is a word mark or design mark and whether it is for goods or services. It establishes “constructive knowledge” of your registration and helps protect your trademark rights, notifying customers and competitors alike that you hold a federally registered trademark and unauthorized use of this mark constitutes trademark infringement.

If your trademark is not yet registered, you cannot use the ® symbol in association with your mark, but you do have the option (which you should take) of using ™ (or ℠ for service-only marks) to claim common law trademark rights. ™/℠ does not signify the same level of trademark protection, just like common law rights are not equivalent to a federal trademark registration, but this is a way of publicly demonstrating your claim to a mark while it is [hopefully] on its way to registration.

In either case, whether your mark is registered or not, the symbol you use should appear in the upper right-hand corner of the mark (DRUMM LAW®) or, if that will look strange, as may be the case with some design marks, the lower right-hand corner.

Wondering what the little © and ℗ symbols mean and how they factor into all of this? © denotes a registered non-audio copyright, while ℗ is the “phonographic copyright” symbol, or the symbol used especially for audio copyrights such as music and audiobook recordings. So you won’t be using these in conjunction with your trademark unless it is the name of an artistic work for which you also hold a copyright.

It’s important to note that, when it comes to international commerce, many countries have different and specific rules and regulations surrounding the use of these symbols, so if you are considering an international trademark, or just distributing your goods to other countries, it may be wise to consult with a trademark attorney first.