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Trademark Use Guidelines

Trademarks and service marks (collectively “marks”) are used to identify the source of goods (trademarks) and services (service marks). 

Certain symbols, including ®, TM, and SM, are used with marks. These symbols could be described as “notices” to advise the public–including consumers and competitors--of a mark’s legal status. 

The most common way to set marks apart from other words is to: 
(1) capitalize the product or service name,
(2) use the appropriate symbol, and then
(3) follow the mark with the appropriate descriptor (i.e., noun).

You may also use underlining, italic type, or bold type to show that a word is a mark.


In the United States, the following symbols are used most often:

™ for an unregistered trademark;
SM for an unregistered service mark; and
® for a registered trademark or service mark. 

Other proper forms of notice for registered marks in the United States include: “Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” “Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.,” and “Reg.”  Be aware that marking practices vary from country to country, so if you are planning to use marks outside of the United States, contact the HHS Office of the General Counsel for assistance.

*Registered trademark of ABC, Incorporated.

Questions?  Contact the HHS Office of the General Counsel at (301) 496-6043.

Office of the General Counsel, Public Health Division, NIH Branch - 9000 Rockville Pike, Bldg. 31, Room 2B-50, Bethesda, MD 20892