July 8, 2008

Do you have a ™ ?

Last week I discussed how to create and start using a logo as part of your branding process. Part of the discussion included a bit on searching the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) to make sure nobody else was using your design. (Read that post here.)

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 ™
  • PlateWrap™
  • 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.




  1. Helpful post, but remember that you can only trademark something if it hasn't been TM'd already by someone else.

    Pam, I wrote a post just for you today ;)


  2. Thank you Barbra - glad you found this info useful!

    Stacy, thanks for mentioning that. That's critical info I assumed the readers would know but I shouldn't assume; it needs to be said.
    I modified the post. :o)

  3. Thanks for providing such helpful information! I enjoyed reading your blog!

  4. Thanks beadedtail!
    Just sharing info that other artists and crafters may find helpful in growing their business...

    Glad you stopped by!

  5. Love your product- I just got my registered trademark....boy that is a serious process!
    Thanks for your link
    La Mia Designs


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