Trade mark symbols: which one can I use?

Written by Anastasia Troshkova | May 23, 2022

Trade Marks

There are 2 main types of trade mark symbols – ® and TM.

What does ® symbol mean?

The ® symbol means that the trade mark is registered. In order to use it, you have to have a trade mark fully registered at a relevant Intellectual Property Office. In the UK, the relevant office is the UKIPO – United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office.

In the UK, it is a criminal offence to use the ® symbol in relation to a mark that is pending or unregistered. In other countries, the use of the ® sign in relation to unregistered marks could also amount to fraud or breach of advertising and competition rules.

Is it mandatory to use the ® symbol?

In the UK, the use of ® symbol in respect of the registered mark is not mandatory and it will not give you any broader legal protections that are available to registered trade marks. However, it is advisable to use it to put third parties on notice of your rights, which could help deter potential infringers and show them that you are prepared to enforce your rights.

In other jurisdictions, the use of the ® symbol might be necessary, otherwise, you might lose certain rights afforded to registered trade marks (for example, recovering damages). It is therefore necessary to obtain legal advice in respect of the use of this symbol in relation to each territory where you use your brand.

What does TM symbol mean?

The TM symbol means that the trade mark is pending or unregistered.

Is it mandatory to use the TM symbol?

As with the registered mark symbol, in the UK it is not mandatory to use TM symbol. However, using this symbol will put third parties on notice that you use a brand name as a trade mark, and that you could be willing to enforce your unregistered rights.

If you have any questions on the use of the intellectual property symbols or notices, or indeed are considering obtaining trade mark protection for your brand, please drop us an email or give us a call and we will be happy to arrange a free consultation with one of our specialist IP lawyers.

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