Recently I found myself once again getting confused about when to register versus when I can wait, particularly with respect to trademark registrations.
According to Dunner Law ( www.dunnerlaw.com), the IP law firm that we use at Community Analytics, "You do not need notice of copyright (©) or trademark (TM, SM, ®) to establish your respective rights — the law does not require it."
They explain that you own copyright to anything original that you write down and also that "you can establish rights in a trademark once you begin offering goods and services in commerce and you use your mark on or in connection with those goods or services (e.g., on product packaging, on delivery vans, or on menus)." You do not have to register to claim rights.
Dunner law explains that proper notice of these rights can be beneficial because it is a means of providing public notice of your rights and protecting against someone claiming innocent infringement.
In the case of a trademark, TM is used for an unregistered mark, SM is used for an unregistered service mark, but many use TM as the default symbol. However, "® is applied only to federally registered marks and not to marks that are the subject of an application pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office."
Dunner Law explains that we should not hesitate to use notice symbols when appropriate.