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The difference between the trade mark symbols ® and ™

Difference between trade mark symbols

Trade mark filers are often not familiar with the symbols that need to be used with their mark. There are two commonly used trade mark symbols, the TM and the letter R in a circle ®.

What do these trade mark symbols mean?

The TM symbol is used for unregistered marks to inform the public that the word, logo or slogan in question is being claimed as a trade mark. You do not need a trade mark registration to use this symbol with your branding. Use of this symbol is not a guarantee that the mark will be protected by trade mark laws of the country the company trades in. Some companies use the TM symbol while their trade mark application is being processed.

The ® symbol is used to indicate that a mark is registered and provides a legal notice of ownership of a name, logo or slogan. The symbol warns other competitors that the trade mark is registered, and often has a dissuasive role. Any infringement will be considered a breach of trade mark laws.

When to use these symbols?

The TM symbol can be used anytime. The purpose is to inform the public that the company claims the branding as a trade mark. This is useful in dissuading others from copying the mark in the market.

The ® symbol can only be used in the countries where you have successfully registered your trade mark with the relevant trade mark office. In the UK, use of the ® symbol prior to registration is a criminal offence and is discouraged.

Where should these symbols be placed?

It’s common practice to place the symbol on the upper right corner of a mark in superscript. It is also acceptable to place it in the lower right corner if it’s not aesthetically pleasing on the top of the mark. There are no guidelines about the placement of the symbols but it’s strictly advised to follow the normal convention. The symbols cannot be placed on the left, top of bottom of the mark.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

N.B: Use of the TM and ® symbols is optional. Names, logo or slogan without the ® symbol isn’t an indication of a brand not being registered as a trade mark.

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