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  • Writer's pictureMarie-Avril Roux Steinkühler

™ ℠ ® and ©: how to understand better the differences between Europe & the USA?



™ and ℠ = unregistered US trademark

The United States recognises unregistered trademarks: the use of the ™ (TradeMark) symbol for goods and ℠ (ServiceMark) symbol for services makes the claim of an unregistered trademark known to third parties.

Thus the use of the ™ or ℠ symbol confers protection on the sign with which it is associated.

As long as the use is constant over time and in relation to the good or service, trade mark rights can be established. These are limited within the geographical area where the trademark is used.

There is no comparable system in France or Europe, where only the registration is valid.


® = registered American trademark

It is preferable to register your trademark with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). It is then that the ® of Registered can be affixed. Use of the acronym is not compulsory, but is recommended in order to draw the attention of the public and competitors to the protection afforded to the brand. Registration provides legal protection throughout the country and prevents third parties from registering a similar mark that could confuse consumers.


© = copyright and Copyright Office

This is optional and is used to identify and show that a work is protected by copyright.

Where Trademarks protect trademarks, Copyright concerns copyright and works, which may be literary or architectural works, computer programmes, etc.

Works are protected by the Copyrig

ht Act (codified in Title 17 of the United States Code) as soon as they are created, without any special formalities. The Copyright Office provides for optional registration, which not only constitutes proof of copyright, but also makes it possible to claim damages, as well as reimbursement of lawyers' fees and legal costs in the event of legal action. It should be noted that use of the © has no legal effect in France.

To register your work in the United States, there is a paperless procedure on the Copyright Office website (eCO). An unpublished work can be the subject of a registration application.



To register your trademarks or protect your works, call on the expertise of our law firm for legal assistance and personalised advice. MARS-IP has been helping companies and entrepreneurs in France and Germany since 2000.



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