What symbol to use for your trademark?

2021-03-13 16:31:40

Registering your trademark in the country you set up your business is in an amazing step to differentiate yourself and start having a loyal following. entrepreneurs and businesses are often very confused about what markings to use to represent the status of their trademark registration.

While naming and symbols seem easy and straight forward, to use and apply, the fact that trademark laws are jurisdictional change from one country to another, having the wrong symbol, or not using a symbol may lead to significant losses, and may even get you in trouble with regulators.


Used for trademarks which have been registered and are protected by the law, regardless of whether the trademark relates to a service or a product. Using this symbol and its underlying meaning providers stronger rights to the brand owner.


The TM symbol is used for trademarks which are either under process, or have not been filed yet, and specifically for a trademark which relates to goods not services


The RTM symbol is used for trademarks or service marks which are registered. this is mainly used in the UK.


The SM symbol is used for service marks, trademarks which protect services, which are either under process, or have not been filed yet.

While the above table provides a broad explanation of the different symbols, it is by no means a reference point when deciding what trademark symbol to use. You should refer to a local expert in your intellectual property laws.

For example, in Germany a trademark owner can not use the symbol TM unless the trademark is already filed. While in the United Kingdom a trademark owner can use the symbol TM or RTM even if the trademark is not filed or registered in the United Kingdom.  

In the United states, if the trademark owners do NOT use the symbol ® on their products or packages, then the brand owner is severely penalized in terms of damages awarded in case of an infringement case. In Europe, india and japan on the other hand such a requirement does not exist and if one uses ® when the mark is not registered the risk of penalty is very high as such use is considered misleading the average consumer.

It is not a one size fits all approach, so reach out to local IP experts to help you with this!  

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