What does TM mean?

Three Trademark symbols: Everything you need to know

We usually see ™, SM, ® symbols on competitors company websites or products catalogue. They are all trademark symbols often used in daily business activities. Here we clearly explain what does TM or SM stand for, what is tm meaning, when and how we use them in different places.

1. What does the symbol TM mean?

trademark sign TM

The symbol TM is used to provide notice of a claim rights in a trademark. A TM symbol usually is used in connection with an unregistered mark, to remind potential infringers that a term, slogan, logo is being claimed in a trademark registration process. Anyone who plan to apply same trademark will be definitely fail. Use of the TM symbol does not mean that the owner’s mark is protected under trademark laws. The owner may continue to use TM in condition that the registration of the mark is not refused.

2. What does the symbol SM mean?

trademark SM

The SM symbol is similar to the TM symbol in that it provides a notice of common-law rights in atrademark, however, it is used in connection with a service mark, covering services, such as banking or legal services, rather than goods. Use of the SM symbol does not guarantee that the owner’s mark will be protected under trademark laws. A service mark is the same as a trademark except it is used to claim the rights to a word, name, or logo that represents a service provided.


  • A company that provides tax caculation and consutation services could use a service mark on business cards that display their company name and logo.
  • A band that can be hired to play at parties and weddings could use a service mark.
  • A company that provides taxi services would use a service mark on advertisements to protect their name and logo.

3. What does the symbol ® mean?

trademark sign R

The symbol ® is a notice of registered ownership used in many countries or regions to advise the public that a trademark or service mark is registered and to provide constructive notice of the legal ownership status of the mark with which it is used. The ® symbol should be used only in connection with registered trademarks or service marks.

Same princeples as in the United States, use of ® may be instituted only after registration of the mark is granted. Use of ® with an unregistered mark may result in claims of fraud where the owner demonstrates intent, knowing and willful misuse, and attempts to deceive or mislead consumers, or in other difficulties for the owner in trying to obtain and/or enforce its trademark rights.

These are some of the products with popular registered trademarks:

  • Coca-Cola® The logo has changed over the years, but includes a soda bottle.
  • Nike® They have trademarked the “swish” logo.
  • McDonald’s® The “golden arches” is the logo of this fast-food restaurant.
  • Harley Davidson® Their well-known logo is called the “bar and shield” logo.
  • Facebook® This logo is a blue square with the letter “f” inside.
  • Dr.Muxue® This is a Chinese brand for womens’s scarf, it is also famous globally.

The registered symbol is used exclusively in association with the registered trademark or service mark. The symbol may only be used in condition that it is registered with the CNIPA Patent and Trademark Office, and it will only be devoted to services and/or goods that are referenced in the registration application.

Prior to being approved, the registered symbol may not be used by the applicant. In other words, until the CNIPA has approved the application, the registration symbol may not be used. In the China, the use of the registered trademark indicates to viewers that the trademark has been officially registered with the CNIPA. Registering a trademark provides the registrant (and only the registrant) with the right to use the trademark. No other party may use the registrant’s trademark without consent. Any party that does infringe on the registrant’s trademark may be sued by the registrant and could be required to pay financial damages.

4.What’s the difference between the little ™ and ®?

As always, there are difference for ™ and ® regulations as in differenct countries. However, there are some generalities across most regions which can provide some basic information.

As one consummer, when we see TM packaging or TM sign for products. We know this is one new mark symbol in market. The owner just put it on the logo, reminding their competitors to avoid conflict soon. It has been in process of trademark registration, but nobody assure it will become one real brand. Maybe soon it will be changed by the owner in condition that it is refused by trademark examinaer.

On another hand, one day you find the mark symbol added with ® alongside itself. You, as normal consummer or one competitor in same industry, need to pay attention to it. Your company need do marketing to study about this brand, for example, what products they desgined ready, what sub company they begin to launch, what next step this guy will do in market.

5. Where should the ™, SM or ® symbol be used?

There is some flexibility as to  where to use the ™, SM or ® symbol. Usually, it is placed in the upper right-hand corner, in the lower right-hand corner, or level with the mark or logo itself—each is an acceptable way of displaying the appropriate symbol.

While there is no specific requirement regarding where these symbols should be used, most often they are placed adjacent to (or, in the case of a design mark, in) the upper right-hand corner of the mark. Example: COCA-COLA®. The ™, SM or ® symbol need only appear with the first or most prominent mention of a mark in all documentation, such as press releases, articles, products catalogue and company reports.

6. How to type the trademark symbol and copyright symbol?

If you need type ™, SM, ®, © in MS Word, these symbols can be inserted from the Insert – Symbol dropdown menu. If the symbol is not there, click on More Symbols to see the huge list for each different font.

In any windows application like Notepad or Photoshop, the numeric keypad is used in combination with the Alt key. Activate the numeric keypad by pressing the NumLock key.

  • For the Copyright symbol (©) Hold the Alt key down and type 0169.
  • For the Trademark symbol (TM) Hold the Alt key down and type 0153.
  • For the Registered symbol (®) Hold the Alt key down and type 0174.

With information above you can differ the TM, SM, R sybols when you see marks on daily activities. It show the different status of the mark in the process of registration. You need walk away from them if you also plan to apply same or similar trademarks. More importantly, it will surely save your time and money for your business.