Symbols used in relation to trademarks are frequently misunderstood by brand owners. The letters “TM” in superscript – TM– and the letter R in a circle – “®” – are the two most often used trademark symbols, however, there are others, such as TM, which is commonly used for service marks in the Philippines, or the acronym RTM (which stands for “registered trademark”).
What do these trademark symbols mean?
For unregistered marks, the TM symbol – TM – is typically used to tell the public that the brand owner is asserting trademark rights in that word, logo, or slogan. You do not need a trademark registration to use this symbol in relation to your branding, with the probable exception of Germany. The use of this sign does not imply that the mark will be protected by trademark rules in the country where the brand owner does business. While the necessary trademark application is being processed, it is extremely common to utilize the TM symbol, which surely contributes to the general view that TM denotes an unregistered mark.
The ® symbol, on the other hand, denotes that a mark has been registered and serves as a formal legal notice of ownership of the brand, whether it is a name, logo, or slogan. The usage of this symbol, for example, alerts competitors that the trademark has been registered, and so has a strong and effective deterrent effect. Any infringement will be regarded as a trademark infringement.
So when should i use these trademark symbols?
In countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, the TM symbol can be used at any time (although there are some legal doubts about the ability to use it in Germany for non-registered marks). It just informs the public and competitors that you are claiming trademark rights to the brand next to which it is situated, as stated above. Even if your trademark isn’t registered, simply utilizing the TM symbol can dissuade competitors from using the same or confusingly similar mark for your goods or services.
The ® symbol, on the other hand, should only be used in the United Kingdom or the United States if your trademark has been successfully registered with the applicable trademark office. In the United Kingdom, for example, it is illegal to fraudulently represent that a mark is registered when it is not, and this includes both phrases like “registered” and the R symbol “®,” as well as other terms or symbols that imply that the mark is already registered.
In some countries, such as Mexico and the Philippines, the usage of the “registered mark”/® symbol is required to keep the registration active. In addition, failing to utilize the ® symbol in the United States may result in the loss of essential remedies if you suit for infringement. If you have any questions, please contact us (or your trademark expert) for assistance.
Where these trademark symbols should be placed?
The most typical approach is to place symbols like TM and ® in superscript on the upper right corner of a trademark. If it would not be visually attractive to place it on the top of the mark, it is also permissible to place it in the bottom right-hand corner.
We have a wealth of experience at the Brealant in assisting brand owners of all sizes – from sole traders and SMEs to multinational corporations – in searching for, protecting, and enforcing their brands and designs both in the Philippines and around the world. We are pleased to answer any queries you may have, including assisting you with registering your trademarks and designs in the Philippines and elsewhere. Let us know if you have any questions regarding how to use these registered trademark symbols or abbreviations, and we’ll be pleased to assist you.
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