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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Question: Can I use the circle R (®) registered trademark symbol in a drawing? I’m drawing a fictional hypothetical product that may be a registered trademark in that fictional universe but does not exist in real life. Should I avoid using the registered R symbol in this drawing?

Answer: Great question! There are two major types of trademark designations: TM and the circle R (®). The TM symbol stands for trademark, and it is used for marks that have not been registered. If you plan to use a mark—whether it’s a logo, a word mark, or a symbol—to designate where certain goods or services come from, the TM symbol is appropriate, especially if you have filed for a trademark that is still pending.

The circle R (®) symbol is reserved for marks that are officially registered on the Principal Register at the trademark office. If what you have is a drawing, and unless that drawing represents an actual brand you are using for your company (such as a design company or artist portfolio), you should not use the circle R symbol.

For artwork or drawings, you would instead designate it for copyright. You can use “Copyright” followed by your name or your company’s name to indicate that you are the copyright owner of the drawing. If you want to, you can register that artwork with the Library of Congress in the future.

To summarize, trademarks are about company branding and doing business under a specific name or logo. For your drawing, you should use copyright designation instead.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at