Maker's Mark Stamp--clarification on trademarked vs. your name

Hi everyone,

I’m in the US, and want to stamp my sterling silver with 925, so I need a stamp for my maker’s mark to identify myself. I have read SO much conflicting information online. I have written to a couple of agencies, and the information wasn’t clear. I was invited to join a group, etc, to get the answer. I’ve gone to the government websites, and there is nothing mentioned of using a name instead of a registered trademark, but quite a few people have said that a name can be used. I really want to get this done, so I will ask my questions here.

  1. Is it true that we can use our name on the stamp, instead of going through the process of registering a trademark? I don’t even have a business. I don’t have a logo. I just want to make jewelry and mark the metal content, so I need a stamp to identify myself, in case I sell the jewelry.

  2. If a name is acceptable, does it have to be the full name (won’t fit)? Last name only ok? Initials only ok?

I am hoping that someone here has been through this (in the USA) with an attorney or someone who knows the answer.

Thank you,

I didn’t think a name or trademark stamp is required in the US—I know it is required in Great Britain. I thought all you need is the quality stamp in the US.

Janet in Jerusalem

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Stamp the content of the metal at least. It’s a good idea to also stamp something that can be traced back to you. I use my initials and.925 in one stamp. You can find people who will make you a custom stamp on the internet. Mine come from Harper Manufacturing. Be ready to pay over $100 and wait a while. Good luck…Rob

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Here in the U.S., there is no law requiring a quality stamp. If you do, however, it must be accompanied by a registered trademark.

Jon Michael Fuja

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Another choice is the Henry Evers Company in Prov. RI

Andy “The Tool Guy” Kroungold
Director Tool Sales & Stuller Bench
Stuller Inc.
P 1-800-877-7777 ext 4191 or 4194

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One’s name is acceptable. I’d think “P.GREGG” would be well within the meaning of the law.

(A) Apply or cause to be applied to that article a trademark of such persons, which has been duly registered or applied for registration under the laws of the United States within thirty days after an article bearing the trademark is placed in commerce or imported into the United States, or the name of such person; and…

Each identifying trademark or name applied to any article of merchandise in compliance with clause (A) of this subsection shall be applied to that article by the same means as that used in applying the quality mark or stamp appearing thereon, in type or lettering at least as large as that used in such quality mark or stamp, and in a position as close as possible to that quality mark or stamp.

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This is an old topic. Search messages by James Binnion in particular on this. I found a message dated 12/10/2009 with this:

“Read the FTC guides section 23.9. To legally stamp a quality mark (Karat etc) it must be accompanied by a registered trademark or the manufacturers name.”

Try as I might searching the FTC website all I come up with is requests for comment, not the 23.9 citation. However, I have read this previously on the FTC site, just can’t find it. If you stamp for metal quality (karat, .925, etc.) there must be a trademark stamp or maker’s name. Any comments suggesting otherwise are not correct. There was a lot of discussion on this in previous years. The fact is if you do not stamp a name or trademark, almost surely nothing is going to happen to you - there are not FTC cops going around inspecting jewelry. Be that as it may, the law says if you stamp for quality there must be a maker’s trademark or name.

I did find this:

Neil A

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In 2014 I gave a short lecture on makers marks at a conference. As part of that, I designed a small spiral stamp and got bids from different vendors. I chose one and had it made. list includes lead times and price. Results are below. The one in the box was the one that I had made. Also, my first stamp with my mark that I had made 35 years ago was by HA Evers. I still use it now.

Hope that helps.

Maker Mark Stamp Manufacturers

Price quoted for this example logo (right): square shank - bent ring stamp - 1.3mm high

· <>Buckeye Engraving $130 + s&h ?

·C & W Steel Stamp Co. $150 + s&h 1 week


·Everstamp (Henry A Evers Co.) $158 +$7.95 s&h 2-3 weeks


·Hamid Rashidi (Otto Frie) $130 + tax + s&h 4 weeks
510.832.0355 x110 <file:///C:/Users/Harriete/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/1FMEY15N/>

·Infinity Stamps, Inc $145 + s&h 2-3 weeks
818-576-1188 ext.317

·Microstamp $125 + s&h 1-2 weeks
(800) 243-354 * actual delivery: 3 days

·Steel Stamps Inc. (Harper Mfg.) $120.00 2 weeks

(800) 776-8407

·Rio Grande (Impressions) n/a Slow response and confusing requirements.

Andy Cooperman Metalsmith
(206) 781-0648


Thanks, Andy, for putting this all together. I remember reading it on one of the FB pages. I’m working with one of the companies now. I was just starting to worry about the laws and wanted to make sure I got a stamp I could use for a long time. 35 years–that’s great!

Hi Neil. I do remember seeing that somewhere. I have been reading up on it for over a year :slight_smile: Most sources leave out the part about the name, and make it sound like it has to be a registered trademark. So many people have told me that. It’s too bad there isn’t a nice, clear government info sheet. Thanks for the info.

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The wording of the law is not clear, but you can sign your work with your name. The point is not to use a mark that is trademarked by someone else.

The law indicates that a trademark includes details such as text styling, therefore signing your own name would not likely violate an existing trademark unless your intention is to mislead.

One of the most confusing issues regarding trademark is that it is intended to protect something specific that can be recognised as distinct, rather than the entire body of work created by one maker, unless a unique distinction can be recognised in that entire body of work.

I question the use of quality marks because your only choice of quality mark is the least valuable metal used in the piece. Would you mark a sterling-platinum alloy 925, or not mark quality at all?

Would you mark some of your pieces with a quality mark but not the pieces that do not perfectly fit the quality classification?

If no quality mark, do you use your maker’s mark alone?

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Trademarks do not protect anything. A trademark is a protected mark that identifies a manufacturer, but the application of a trademark to a piece does not give it any sort of automatic protection, such as a copyright. Copyright law and trademark law are two entirely different areas, and administered by different government entities, at least are so in the US.

A “sterling-platinum alloy” would not be able to be marked as it is not a recognized quality of a precious metal. Though I admit to being at a loss as to what a “sterling-platinum alloy” might be.

A piece composed of parts of different qualities ought to be marked on each component with its proper quality mark:
“(B) if such article of merchandise is composed of two or more parts which are complete in themselves but which are not identical in quality, and any one of such parts bears such a quality mark or stamp, apply or cause to be applied to each other part of that article of merchandise a quality mark or stamp of like pattern and size disclosing the quality of that other part.”
The full text of the act can be read on Cornell’s Legal Information Institute website:

The Code of Federal Regulations has a useful guide, though a bit densely written as is so much legalese, which can be read here:

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Trademarks do not protect anything. A trademark is a protected mark that identifies a manufacturer, but the application of a trademark to a piece does not give it any sort of automatic protection, such as a copyright.

Being a protected mark means it’s holder could legally prevail in court if they prove their trademark was violated.

Here’s a link: About Trademark Infringement | USPTO

A “sterling-platinum alloy” would not be able to be marked as it is not a recognized quality of a precious metal. Though I admit to being at a loss as to what a “sterling-platinum alloy” might be.

I was specifically thinking about a non-standard alloy of sterling/gold/platinum I’m planning to try.

So even though you would not quality mark pieces made from non-standard alloys, would you use your maker’s mark without a quality mark?

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The difference between trademark infringement and copyright infringement is that trademark law protects the mark itself, not necessarily the object to which it is applied, whereas copyright protects the object/image itself regardless of any manufacturers mark.

If I create an entirely new board game and print on it Hasbro’s trademark, Hasbro can sue me for trademark infringement, as I am attempting to pass off the new product as one of theirs, attempting to rely upon their good name to sell my game. But the product itself, being a new creation, is not considered to be a Hasbro product simply for being marked with a false maker’s mark.

If I publish an exact copy of the game Monopoly and leave off any of the owner’s trademarks, replacing them with invented marks, I will be infringing on the owner’s copyright, even though there are none of its protected marks present on the pirated object.

Trademarks must be registered to be protected. Copyright inheres upon first publication even without registration, though registration makes suing for infringement easier as it establishes when the piece was created.

Also, a closer reading of the government’s guide for jewelers, which I ought to have done before my last post (mea culpa), shows that there is a formula for marking unusual alloys of platinum in which the alloying metals are not elements in the platinum group. It’s based on x parts per 1000, and can be used where platinum is at least 50% of the alloy.

For instance, let’s say you make an alloy that is 75% platinum and 25% sterling. Since sterling is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper that would make this alloy 231 parts silver and 19 parts copper (rounding to the nearest whole number). The quality mark for this would be:
750Pt 231Ag 19Cu.

The germane section is paragraph c subparagarph 5:

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Or you can make your own. Tim made his and mine.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
-Jo Haemer

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…would you use your maker’s mark without a quality mark?

Why not? All your maker’s mark means is that you made the object. You
are signing your piece. There is nothing wrong with that.

This is outside my personal experience so maybe I’m mistaken, but didn’t
individual craftsmen working collaboratively, say at Tiffany’s, stamp
their individual marks so a piece might have several maker’s marks on it
along with Tiffany’s?


Back when I worked for my first boss we made a lot for Tiffany, and those items went out the door with only the quality mark and “Tiffany” stamped on them. (Tiffany gives maker’s stamps to its regular suppliers so they can stamp the work before delivery.)

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That is my understanding as well. According to all the government sources I have reviewed, in the US, you do not have to use a quality stamp but if you do you must use a Maker’s Mark. However I have not found that your Maker’s Mark must be registered.

In Canada, I “must” use my Makers name…“GEMZ” & “.925”… finally my
choice of being Canadian-made is a “Maple Leaf” pattern logo. (No stamps,
no sales)…simple ruling!!

Gerry Lewy

Thank you for the excellent information. Cheers!