TM, R, SM? What is the correct trade mark symbol?

A common misconception is that a registered trade mark is identified if someone affixes a TM symbol next to their branding.

However, this is not the case. The TM is not a legally binding symbol and holds no weight to identifying a registered mark. the TM in fact stands for an unregistered trade mark or to note that the trade mark owners are looking to seek trade mark protection at some point in the future. It may also be used alongside branding that may not be eligible for trade mark protection such as containing a geographical location or may be seen as devoid of distinctive character.

You may have seen people using the symbol of SM. This stands for an ‘unregistered service to identify a set service given under a brand’. Once again, this is not a legally binding symbol and bares no weight in intellectual property law courts.

Finally, when you register a trade mark with an intellectual property office of your choice, then you will be notified that you are now able to affix an R symbol against your mark. Unlike the above, this is a legally binding symbol and indicates that you hold a registered trade mark. This will bear some weight to identifying in court your registration and rights you hold over the mark.

Please be careful, however, not to use the symbol without having a registered trade mark as you are then subject to having your mark removed from you as you will breach criminal laws.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact the Trademarkroom team today.

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