Copyright, Trademark,
and Service Mark Symbols



In this lesson, we will discuss four symbols that you can use to protect your work from being stolen:thief

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  • copyright symbol ©

  • trademark symbol ™

  • service mark symbol ( SM )

  • registered trademark symbol ®

All of these symbols offer protection from plagiarism.

Plagiarism is copying or stealing someone's work without permission.


Copyright Symbol

Copyright is the legal right to be the only one to publish or sell a book, musical recording, etc.

The person with the copyright is the legal owner, and other people cannot use the product without his or her permission.

The copyright symbol is a capital C inside a circle: ©

The copyright symbol is used to show copyright notice for all works other than sound recordings.

On the keyboard

  • The copyright symbol is made on most PCs by holding the ALT key and typing 0169 on the numeric keypad to the right.

  • Another easy way to make a copyright symbol is by pressing CTRL + ALT + C. This command works well on laptops that do not have a numerical keypad.

  • You can also insert the copyright symbol by using the INSERT SYMBOL menu and selecting the copyright sign.

  • Mac users can make the copyright symbol by pressing OPTION + G.


History of the Copyright Symbolcopyright symbol

The copyright symbol © was first introduced on July 1, 1909, through the United States Copyright Act of 1909.

The Copyright Act of 1976 replaced the Copyright Act of 1909. The copyright symbol is still used.

In 1988, the Berne Convention Implementation Act was added to the Copyright Act of 1976.

The Bern Convention Implementation Act states that any work created after March 1, 1989, does not need a copyright symbol © to be protected.

Copyright rules

  1. All works created after March 1, 1989, do not need a copyright symbol to be protected.

    All new works are protected from the moment they are put onto paper.

  2. However, the United States Copyright Office recommends that you still use the copyright symbol to show it is your original work.

    Unpublished works can be marked with a copyright like this:

    Title of unpublished work © 2012 Jane Smith

  3. Published works do have a copyright attached.
    woman writing
    Published means the work is being printed and available for sale.

  4. Works published before March 1, 1989 must have a copyright symbol to be protected.

    A copyright protects the author's work for 70 years after the author's death.

    Most works created before the 20th century are no longer protected under the copyright laws and are available to the public.

  5. If a piece of work does not have a copyright, then it can be copied and used without permission. Note that a piece of work can have no copyright symbol attached but still have a copyright. 

Special note:

For sound recordings, we use the phonograph copyright symbol.

The phonograph copyright symbol is a capital P inside a circle: 

The phonograph copyright symbol be made on most PCs by typing 2117 followed by Alt + X

singer

If you would like more information about the copyright symbol, visit the official
United States Copyright Office website.

Trademark and Service Mark Symbols

  • Trademark Symbol

The trademark symbol is a small "TM." ( ™ )

If you want to claim rights to a word, name, or logo that represents a company that makes a product, use the trademark symbol.

(A logo is a symbol or picture that represents a company's name.)
  • Service Mark Symbol

The service mark is made with the letters "SM."

A service mark is the same as a trademark except it is used to claim the rights to a word, name, or logo that represents a service provided.

Examples:
  • A company that provides home cleaning services could use a service mark on business cards that display their company name and logo.
  • A band that can be hired to play at parties and weddings could use a service mark.
  • A company that provides taxi services would use a service mark on advertisements to protect their name and logo.

These two symbols do not offer legal protection, but they do tell other people that you claim ownership of that word, name, or logo.

You do not have to get permission or file any paperwork to use the trademark or service mark symbols.

On the keyboard:

trademark

  • You can type the trademark symbol on most keyboards by typing ALT + CTRL + T at the same time.

  • You can also insert the trademark symbol by choosing INSERT SYMBOL and selecting the trademark symbol.

  • You can make the trademark symbol on any Windows program by holding ALT and typing 0153 on the keypad to the right.

  • You cannot make a service mark symbol on a regular keyboard.

Registered Trademark Symbol

The registered trademark symbol looks like a tiny "R" inside a circle. ( ® )

The registered trademark ( ® )  is the same as a trademark ( ™ ) or service mark ( SM ) except the registered trademark symbol legally protects words, names, and logos from copyright.

The registered trademark symbol may only be used after the work is registered with the United States Trademark Office (or its foreign equivalent) and you have received a certificate.

The registered trademark symbol gives you public and legal ownership of your mark.

On the keyboard:

  • You can create a registered trademark symbol by pressing CTRL + ALT + R at the same time.

  • You can also insert the registered trademark symbol by choosing INSERT SYMBOL and selecting the registered trademark symbol.

  • You can make the registered trademark symbol on any Windows program by holding the ALT key and typing 0174 on the keypad to the right.

If you use a trademarked name, you  should show it by placing one of the symbols by the name.

registered trademark

These are some of the products with popular registered trademarks:

  • Coca-Cola®

    The logo has changed over the years, but includes a soda bottle.

  • Nike®

    They have trademarked the "swish" logo.

  • McDonald's®

    The "golden arches" is the logo of this fast-food restaurant.

  • Harley Davidson®

    Their well-known logo is called the "bar and shield" logo.

  • Facebook®

    This logo is a blue square with the letter "f" inside.

  • Delta®

    The logo for this popular airline is made of two 3-dimensional, red triangles that make one larger triangle.
If you would like more information about the trademark, service mark, and registered trademark symbols, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.

These were the uses of the Copyright, Trademark, and Service Mark Symbols. Now that you know them, it is time to practice! Read and do exercises.

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