How to Identify a Trademark
Identifying a trademark on goods or services is as straightforward as identifying the name, logo or symbol on packaging, advertising, or a sign that indicates the source of the goods or services. The more distinctive the name, logo or symbol that is displayed, the more likely it is a trademark. No special words or symbols are required to identify a trademark, but certain designations can be used with a trademark to indicate that the business offering goods or services claims trademark rights.
Inspect the product for a distinctive name, logo or symbol that clearly indicates the source of the product. The official definition given by the United States Patent and Trademark Office is: "A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services." Government registration is not required to establish trademark rights.
Inspect the product for the designation "TM" near a distinctive name, logo or symbol that clearly indicates the source of the product. The "TM" designation is used by a business offering the product to alert the public that the business owner claims trademark rights in the name, logo or symbol included with the designation. The "TM" designation can be used by any business claiming trademark rights and does not require any type of government registration.
Inspect the business publications, such as brochures, advertising or displays, for the designation "SM" near a distinctive name, logo or symbol. The "SM" designation is used by a business offering services to alert the public that the business owner claims rights, often referred to as a "service mark," in the name, logo or symbol associated with its services. Like the "TM" designation, the "SM" designation can be used by any business claiming service mark rights and does not require any type of government registration.
Inspect the product or business publications for the designation "®" near a distinctive name, logo or symbol that clearly indicates the source of the product or services. The "®" designation is used by a business to alert the public that its trademark or service mark is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A business can only use this designation when the trademark or service mark is officially registered, not while an application for registration is pending.
Each state has its own laws regarding registration of a trademark or service mark. No special designation is used to indicate state registration only. It would be appropriate to use either the "TM" or "SM" designation in this situation.
The designation "©" is used only to indicate copyrights in a work of art, music or literature and does not have any relation to trademark rights.