What is the difference between the Circle C, Circle R, and ™?

Many people get confused with the various designations that are used to protect Intellectual Property.  Most commonly confused are the ©,™ and ®.

The Circle C or © symbol is reserved for copyrighted materials, such as blogs, books, or paintings unless they are sound recordings.  Sound recordings should use a Circle P.  The United States does not require you use the Circle C symbol for protection.  However, using the Circle C may deter some people from infringement.  

The Circle R or ® Symbol is for trademarks that have received a trademark registration certificate from the USPTO.  Using the Circle R before you have the certificate could expose your company to expensive litigation.

The Common law trademark symbol or ™ is used for trademarks that were acquired by use and not registered with the USPTO.  Other people will use the ™ symbol when they are waiting for a certificate of registration from the USPTO.