Business owners often get confused between the ™ and ® trademark symbols and their meanings, but there is a BIG difference between them.

What is the difference between ™ and ® trademark symbols? Do I have to use either?

‘TM’ stands for Trade Mark.

This symbol can indicate that you have a pending application for the brand, or you are claiming some rights in the name without trademark registration. Businesses use this symbol to indicate protection of a brand, but that protection is not ownership and is often misleading. It can be a useful tool to show your competitors you have at least thought of trademark protection, but if it came down to a challenge, you would not have the full rights of a registered trademark.

‘R’ stands for registered.

The R registered trademark symbol

The ® symbol, on the other hand, indicates the trademark is registered and the owner has exclusive rights to the mark.

Using this symbol means you are serious about your brand and can take action against a competitor who likes your great brand and thinks it would be good for his or her business too!

Don’t misuse the ™ and ® trademark symbols

It is also important to know the difference, and that the use of this symbol without actually having the brand registered as a trademark is misleading and deceptive; if challenged, severe penalties can be imposed for misuse of the trademark symbols. I would highly recommend that you don’t take the risk of being caught using this symbol if you don’t actually have a trademark registration for the particular brand. There is no legal requirement to use either symbol. But if you are serious about your brand and value it, it is a natural progression to have it registered and then use the ® symbol. Using that symbol lets your competitors know you value the brand and could take action against them, including suing for trademark infringement.

Trademark TIPS:

  • If your trademark is registered in the relevant country, use the ® symbol on all your advertising.
  • If your trademark is not registered in the relevant country, use the ™ symbol.