IP Tech Knowledgy

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Understand the © ® ℗ about ™ ℠ and IP Notices

Intellectual property owners use different notices to inform the public their rights are protected. The symbols seem impressive, but some have only minimal or no legal effect. 

For trademarks, the ® indicates that the mark is federally registered. An infringer is presumed to know the mark is a registered and protectable mark when the owner uses an ®. This can be beneficial in obtaining damages from the infringer who might otherwise claim it did not believe the mark was protectable. The ™ and ℠ have no legal power, other than indicating that the user claims the brand as a mark. The ℠ symbol indicates the owner claims an unregistered service mark in the brand used in connection with services. The ™ symbol indicates the owner claims an unregistered trademark in the brand used in connection with products.  Oddly, it is not wrong to use ™ also as a notice for a service mark.

For copyrights, the © is part of the copyright notice prescribed by federal law. An author or copyright claimant can use the full notice (“© 2022 Owner Name”) whether or not the work of art is registered. The legal benefit of the notice is to negate an infringer from claiming it is an innocent infringer. Any creative work is protected by copyright law with or without the notice. The lesser-known ℗ notation indicates a claim to the sound recording or phonogram. A sound recording consists of the recording of the performance of a separately-protectible underlying musical work. 

Notice the notice.

Ned T. Himmelrich
410-576-4171 • nhimmelrich@gfrlaw.com