Explanation of the ™ and ® symbols
Companies also represent the value of their trademarks with "®" and "™" labels. Nonetheless, they are sometimes misused and trademark owners may not be aware of the possible implications of the misuse. ™ signifies the registration of a mark with the governing agency of the country, while "™" means that the mark is not registered, but used by the company.
Registering a trademark is compulsorily required in some countries, such as Mexico, Chile, Peru, and the Philippines, in the sense that the label registration of a trademark can not be objected to by third parties without any branding with the "®" sign.
When businesses don't need to use trademarks, they will bear in mind that it could dissuade third parties to warn that a trademark owner would protect against illegal usage.
Because regulations vary from one country to the next, we intend to summarize the features, as well as to give some information and guidance on the correct use of these symbols and on how possible problems can be avoided.
1. What is The “®” sign
Companies use the symbol "®" for informing consumers and applicants of the trademark's registration. Typically it is placed on the right side of the line, offset and lower than the mark. The "®" is explicitly used for registered trademarks. It is illegal to use the' ®' before registration of the mark.
Where can I use "®" in compliance with the country in which the term is used?
- Turkey: The meaning of the ® symbol is called “register” in Turkey. That means the trademark is registered and the symbol which is ® using next to the firm or brand name. However, there is no need to use the ® symbol when a trademark is registered in Turkey.
- UK: The symbol "®" or the abbreviation "RTM" (for the trademark registered) means that your trademark is registered. This indication shall be allowable in cases where the trademark is registered elsewhere than the UK. Nevertheless, if, in any trademark which is not licensed anywhere in the world, you use the registered symbol "®" or abbreviation "RTM," this shall contravene the rule.
- France: the use of "®" on your name does not have a direct legal impact. Nevertheless, the logo may be considered an act of unfair competition if it is used together with a trademark not registered (Article 1382 of the French Civil Code). Symbol misuse can also be interpreted as misleading advertising more specifically.
- United States of America: the failure to use the "®" when a trade mark has been registered can, when legal action is taken against a trademark infringer, lead to the rights arising from a trademark (e.g. income recovery or damages). Inappropriate use of the mark can devalue the mark and make it hard to implement it.
Export of goods to a country where the registered trademark "®" is not licensed
- European Union: where goods are imported into the European Union with registered trademark symbols, the principle of free movement of goods is prevailing over national law on unfair competition by the European Court of Justice. The importation into a country in which the trademark is not licensed of foreign products is not considered to be misleading advertising or a breach of the Unfair Competition Act.
- Certain cases: where marked goods must be transported into a country where the label has not been registered, options are available under the law:
- Hide the symbols of the markings. Due to regulatory constraints, that can be costly and not always allowed.
- Avoid marking on the packaging: this option may decrease the value of the mark and may be illegal in countries in which marking is required or where the use of the marking is advantageous.
- Country Labelling: The Court ruled that further explicit information or at least in the advertising of the products indicating that an indicator of "®" points only to a registration of a foreign trademark must be provided.
2. The symbol of the "™"
The "™" sign means a "brand name" and was initially used only in the US or in the UK. The public can be informed of the use of the sign as a trademark to distinguish between the goods or services identified by other companies.
How do I use the "™" sign depending on the country of use?
- You may use the trademark designation "™" to notify the public of your identification as an owner of the trademark in the United States. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is not required to file a complaint. If you intend to sign a label or not, the "™" symbol can be used.
- If in Germany you are using the trademark, only concerning registered trademarks should it be used? In conjunction with a trading name which has not been registered, the Munich Regional Court decided to refuse the use of the sign "™." The use before registration under the German Unfair Competition Law was found deceptive and frustrating. At the same level of jurisdiction, however, conflicting decisions have been taken. The "™" symbol with registered marks should be used until final decisions are taken by the highest civil court of Germany.
You might ask a local trademark lawyer for guidance if you know that the trademark laws in countries where you market your goods are different. If you are looking for advice, please list your company's most important markets. This will help identify countries where the marking is compulsory or where sanctions can be imposed in the event of abuse. It may be safer, in some situations, to prevent illegal use by not using the symbol "™" or "®"