Let’s expand on this a little and go into trademarks and service marks. (A trade mark is for goods and a service mark is for services.) These are often words or phrases that uniquely identify you, your business, or your products. I’m paraphrasing here, and for a complete description, visit the USPTO page on Trademarks or check out CIPO, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
According to the USPTO and CIPO, registration of your trademark is not required. All you need to do is start using it to establish that it is yours*. You can, of course, register your mark, which among other things will help you in the case you may need legal protection or if you plan to register your mark in countries outside the US.
* I should clarify that first you must make sure nobody else is using the mark you intend to use. Thank you Stacy for pointing this out!
Once you establish that a mark is yours, you can place the ™ behind it. (Or the SM symbol, if you are using a service mark instead of a trademark.)
Some of our own trade marks are:
- Pass It On Plates ™
- Flying Plate™
Things you may be able to trademark or service mark could be:
- Your blog title
- Your Etsy store name
- Unique products you design - an example of this could be "Tina's Tiny Tiles" "MorningSun Farms Goat Milk Soap" or "Shoobidybop!"
- Your product names
- Your product attributes like color, scent, sizes...
- A DIY kit you create and package
- A regular promotion you have at your store
(remember, though, the term needs to be unique to you)
- A specific online community that you manage
One note: in the USA, the ® symbol indicates a registered trademark or service mark and unregistered use of the symbol is illegal.
The USPTO and CIPO websites are well-written and easy to read. If you are interested in incorporating a trademark, service mark, or want more information about copyrights, check them out. If you live outside North America, you should be able to find your own country's trademark information by doing an internet search for the word "trademark" and your country name.