Begin with the understanding that the moment you create something it is protected by law
... assuming that it is new / original; that it is not in use somewhere else.ÃÂ And by adding the (TM) after it you give notice that your creation is pending, even if you have not begun the registrationÃÂ process.
Next, whatever you have created, mailÃÂ two copies (two separate envelopes) to yourself, making sure you note on the outside of the envelope what is inside.ÃÂ Also, make sure you tape the envelope flap after you lick it and then put your initials or sign your name across the tape.ÃÂ The purpose for one of the copies is to be able to open it if ever challenged keeping the second one should you have to go to court - which is not likely.
So, you noted obtaining a trademark for a new company or product.
This gives thought as what you are looking to have registered.ÃÂ The use of the (TM) really should be temporary even though some never register their item.
The processÃÂ is fairly standard but if you are looking to protect a logo that also has your company name - say the outline of a house with "Joan's Cleaning" within it, you can easily use the (TM) and then register it and get the right to use (R).ÃÂ But, the (TM) and eventualy (R) are only for the logo with your company name.ÃÂ If you want to protect your company name you will have to use the (TM) and get it registered for use in a sentence:ÃÂ "For the best service, call Joan's Cleaning (R).
Alert!ÃÂ While you can affix the (TM) someone else can come along and get it registered which may blow out your right to use it even with the (TM) (this is where the mailed copy will come in)ÃÂ but, and here is the alert, the formal registering process may make it difficult to register any broad or general word (s) like cleaning.ÃÂ You might have a better chance with Joan's (R) Cleaning.
One final thought
... registering is also done by category.ÃÂ Let's say that Joan's Cleaning is actually a cleaning service
... that would be one category.ÃÂ But, let's say that Joan has made shirts or vests for each employee and they became so popular that she wants to sell the shirts in a retail store.ÃÂ This usage of the "brand" - Joan's Cleaning would need a separate "bug"; a separate filing for the use of the (R).
In closing, keep in mind that there are (C) for copyrights, (TM) for temp use, (R) for registered, and (SM) for service marks which might be a slogan like the words "refresing to the last drop" (SM) for a soft drink company.
If you are planning to do your own registering it is quite easy and you can go to www.uspto.gov .
One thing you can keep in mind is if you register nationally first when registering at the state level they sometimes will take the state filing and not require anything else from you.
Warning:ÃÂ There is a wide range of attorney based services and depending on your need you may pay a few thousand dollars for the attorney's service but for a simply registration you really should not pay much more than a few hundred dollars for an attorney to handle the process for you.ÃÂ Also, do some research of your own by going to the yellow pages and search to see if anyone else is using YOUR name :)ÃÂ ... and yes, go to the yellow pages in whatever region or city you want to operate.