Ask HN: What’s the point of the TM and (R) symbols?

Ask HN: What’s the point of the TM and (R) symbols?
60 points by coldpie 9 hours ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments
I was reading that Mercedes-Benz PRE-SAFE(R) marketing prose, and it prompted me to ask this question that I’ve been wondering for a while: Why do companies mess up their text and logo images with TM and (R) symbols?

To be clear: I understand what trademark laws and registration are for. I am not asking for an overview of the theory of trademark law. I’m specifically asking why they insist on slathering TM and (R) symbols in text and in images. What horrible thing would happen if Mercedes-Benz had not awkwardly slapped (R) after every-other word in that article?