What do the ® and ™ beside logos mean?
I am not an attorney. I am an art director. What follows is a very simplified explanation of these ™ ® marks in the USA based on my understanding from my professional work career.
As a professional graphic designer any logo I create has copyrights. This is one form of protection of art work. As that logo art is licensed by me to a business, and as the business grows, it may want additional legal protection for the logo asset.
Logos and Trademarks Confusion ™ ®
A logo is a form of a Trademark.
Today there are at least seven recognized categories of trademarks and logos:
1. Name only logos (BRAUN, Scripto, XEROX, Kellogg’s, FedEx)
2. Name symbol logos (Ford, Bayer, Hertz, Nike)
3. Initial letter logos (IBM, NBC,)
4. Pictorial name logos (Apple Computer’s apple, Jaguar’ leaping Jaguar, NBC colored peacock)
5. Associative logos (Elmers-cow, Michelin-man, Geico-geeko)
6. Allusive logos (flickr, Yahoo, Corollla)
7. Abstract logos (Olympics five intersecting circles, Nike swoosh, addidas stripes)
These seven categories are frequently simplified when presented by professional graphic designers to clients into:
2. Device marks
3. Composite mark–both a wordmark and a device mark.
A trademark is a device which can take almost any form, as long as it is capable of identifying and distinguishing specific goods or services. Historically, or traditionally, the term “trademark” described only marks designating products or “goods”.
Often the word today is used to describe both goods and services type of marks. Another type of a trademark, a services mark, indicates the source or origin of services. Examples are plumbers or movers with service marks on delivery vehicles.
A ® means registered trademark. The symbol ™ means trademark. Trademark registration occurs at different levels; state level and federal level.
Before a logo has ™ status at the state level it is first registered at the state level and can carry the ® once legally registered. The business goes through the legal gauntlet of the trademark registration process to use the ® next to its logo art . Eventually the legal paperwork gauntlet gets a business logo to the ™ status. To gain federal level protection the paperwork gauntlet is repeated at a greater expense.
This is part of what a good attorney that specializes in intellectual property rights does for a client.
To learn more on your own read;
1. The Copyright Guide; a Friendly Handbook To Protecting and Profiting From Copyrights. By Lee Wilson.
Another book is:
2. Graphic Artists Guild Handbook Pricing & Ethical Guidelines (currently 15th ed).
These reads lead to other books, articles, and people on ™ ® topics, as well as other associated topics.