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Written by : Randall Schmitzer
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you've seen the tm and you've seen the sm so what's the difference between the tm and the sm and why should you care hey everybody my name is marcela dominguez and if you are new here i help small and medium sized companies protect their brands online and offline which i have been doing for a pretty long time now if you're interested in seeing the long list of wonderful people i have worked with make sure that you head to marcella tm.com but in today's video i want to explain to you what in the world is the difference between the sm and the tm so if you haven't watched this video already make sure that you stop and you watch this video first because this one will give you a wonderful overview of what the tm the sm and the circle are actually mean but this video is going to be a little bit more focused on tm and sm specifically so i know that you all have seen the sm so what does the sm mean it means service mark i know you've seen the tm what is the tm mean it means trade mark so service mark is actually a placeholder this sm right here is a placeholder for service based businesses that have not yet protected their logo slogan tagline or business name with the circle are so the sm is the placeholder that they can use until they obtain a registered trademark certificate or if they are not actively seeking one it puts other people on notice that they are actively using this name in conjunction with services so can i give you an example well sure i can let's say that you are in the business of providing software as a service let's say that you are a legal professional offering legal services let's say you're a doctor who offers medical services let's say you're a hospital or a clinic or a chiropractor or a dentist all of those are services right and so you would be protecting your logo your business name your tagline any of that with a service mark so if you have not registered the trademark then you would be using the sm symbol so would you still use the sm symbol even if you have submitted an application well yes even if you submitted an application you would still use the sm why well you haven't received a registered trademark certificate yet have you if you have received a registered trademark certificate then it is okay to use the circle r but if you have not and you have already submitted your application and you are still waiting then you still have to use an sm if you are a service based business and the benefit is you're putting other people on notice that you are using this name so again it's a placeholder it's kind of like telling people hey i'm here and i'm using this name so don't use it now a trademark is very very similar a trademark is a placeholder as well in the same way that an sm is putting people on notice for your service based business atm is putting people on notice that you are using this trademark but it is in association with the sale of goods or products so let's say that i have a shopify store a wig store woocommerce store and i am selling kids products which by the way i do at stowyjoey.com then that would mean that i can use uh the tm in conjunction with my name my logo my slogan my tagline if i have not yet registered it because i am in the business of selling goods of selling products now if you also sell shampoo watches eyelash curlers tank tops lamps couches rugs then you would also be using the tm because those are goods those are physical products so using the tm would put people on notice that you are using a particular trademark and you are basically claiming it up until the time that it becomes a registered trademark now using an sm or a tm doesn't necessarily signal to anybody that you are in pursuit of a registered trademark does using the sm or the tm tell people that you are going to pursue it in the future no it doesn't using these is only a placeholder and you can only read into it in so far so don't read into it if you see a tm or an sm don't assume that they're pursuing a registered trademark because that is not always the case but it is the case that they are trying to put people on notice that they are using this trademark even though they may or may not be actively pursuing a registered trademark so if you learn more than you knew before you started watching make sure that you give me a thumbs up and make sure to watch this video right here which will be very beneficial to you if you are just starting your trademark journey make sure that you grab my free trademark gt down below and if you need some trademark resources make sure you also visit the diy legal shop down below
Thanks for your comment Francesco Louka, have a nice day.
- Randall Schmitzer, Staff Member
hi everybody this is trademark attorney Josh gurbin welcome to episode 15 of ask a trademark attorney in today's episode the question we're going to answer is what is the difference between a trademark and a service mark the answer is they're pretty much the same thing matter of fact most people always use the word trademark even when referring to service marks and that's really okay there's not a lot wrong with doing so but it's important to know the technical difference so a trademark typically refers to a mark that is for goods so think of a mark that represents shoes clothing sunglasses anything that's a product on the other hand a service mark represents a mark that is for services so think of the name of our restaurant the name of a marketing or advertising agency even the name of a law firm when it's a service being offered and you're protecting the mark or the name of a service then that would be a service mark so the main difference and the reason that people sometimes ask the question about what is the difference between a trademark and a service mark is that before your trademark registers and before you can use that circle are next to your name you can use either the little capital letters TM or SM next to your name and a lot of people just use the TM like I was telling you it's kind of a commonly used thing even for service marks it's really okay but if you want to be technically correct you would use a TM next to your name prior to your trademark being registered if you're selling a product and you would use an SM next to your name prior to your trademark being registered if you're offering a service then once the trademark gets registered everybody just uses the circle dollar so it all ends up at the same place at the end of the day I hope you found this helpful if any further questions please feel free to get in touch with us you can go to gourbin law.com just click on the contact tab you can get right in touch with one of our attorneys thank you so much I'll talk to you next time you
Thanks Mitchell your participation is very much appreciated
- Randall Schmitzer
About the author
I've studied environmental ethics at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg and I am an expert in extragalactic astronomy. I usually feel complacent. My previous job was new accounts clerk (banking) I held this position for 2 years, I love talking about films and korfball. Huge fan of Isaac Newton I practice snooker and collect breweriana.
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