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Difference Between TM (™) and R (®) Symbols in Trademark

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  • Post published:November 21, 2023
  • Post category:Trademark


Last Updated on June 21, 2024 by Kanakkupillai

In order to denote ownership of intellectual property for a particular mark, two frequently used symbols are the TM and R Symbols. It is noteworthy that in India, using the ® or ™ symbols in conjunction with trademarks to formally assert or secure rights for them is not obligatory. This is consistent with the Directive Principles of Article 5 of the Paris Convention. Although not required, using trademark symbols is recommended as it acts as a deterrent to potential infringers.

Applied Trademark Symbol: ‘™’

Once a trademark registration application is filed successfully with IP India, the mark’s proprietor is granted permission to incorporate the TM symbol into the mark. This symbol functions as a warning, signifying that the registration procedure for a particular trademark is presently in progress. Organizations frequently append the trademark superscript, TM, to content that they assert as their own but have not yet submitted for registration with a regulatory body, such as text, images, or other materials. Organizations may employ the symbol TM to indicate their preliminary utilization or their intention to pursue official registration. When viewed through a business lens, it communicates the notion that the offered product or service has an exceptional and unique identity.

Registered Trademark Symbol: ‘®’

The ® symbol denotes the successful trademark inscription with the Indian Trademarks Registry. Registration of a trademark confers upon its proprietor the sole and proper authority to employ the symbol in connection with their product or service. Whoever does not have explicit permission or license from the trademark proprietor is prohibited from using the mark. Consequently, the ® symbol is an unequivocal signifier that the trademark has completed the requisite formal registration procedure.

The presence of this symbol suggests that the stipulations of the Trademarks Act of 1999 protect the logo. Ten years is the standard duration of protection for trademark registrations; however, the safeguarding effect may be prolonged via the trademark renewal procedure. Engaging in unauthorized usage of a registered name, logo, or symbol, whether by an individual or business, may result in allegations of trademark infringement. This underscores the criticality of upholding the proprietor’s exclusive rights.

Key Differences: TM and R Symbol

It is always essential to remember that legislative and procedural differences exist between regions, necessitating the provision of jurisdiction-specific guidance. However, certain overarching principles are pertinent to most regions and can provide fundamental insights.

To designate the origin of a specific product or service, the TM symbol signifies that a word, phrase, or logo is permissible for use by both individuals and organizations. It is crucial to note that utilising the TM symbol does not require prior trademark registration. Numerous organizations utilize the TM symbol before and throughout the application procedure when promoting new products or services.

Conversely, the R symbol designates a registered trademark for a specific product or service, indicating that it pertains to a particular word, phrase, or logo. The application of this technology is limited to registered trademarks and may only be utilized by the authorized proprietor or a designated licensee. Additionally, the geographical scope of the valid trademark registration restricts using the R symbol; it may only be employed in areas where the trademark is legally protected and recognized.

  1. Usage: Different stages of the trademark application process involve the use of the symbols TM and ®. The ® symbol is no longer applicable to a trademark once it has completed the registration procedure. This denotes the formal registration of the trademark, granting the proprietor of the enterprise sole rights to utilize it.

Conversely, the TM symbol is employed while a trademark application is pending approval for a particular service or product. This functionary statement signifies that the organization has established a legal claim to the trademark, notwithstanding the ongoing formal registration procedure.

  1. Legalities: The TM symbol does not bestow legal validity or safeguarding. Legal recourse may be pursued to safeguard the initial intellectual property if a trademark is replicated using the TM symbol. It is a cautionary indication that the mark is linked to a specific corporate entity and is undergoing the safeguarding procedure.

The ® mark, on the other hand, possesses legal force. Legal safeguards are in place to prevent unauthorized duplication of a registered trademark; such actions may result in legal repercussions. The status of a registered trademark provides a strong deterrent against infringement, enabling the trademark proprietor to initiate legal proceedings against those who violate the law.

  1. Branding Purpose and Value: The selection between the TM and ® symbols carries considerable importance to branding strategy. The TM symbol is frequently favoured when a brand is identified before formal registration. This action indicates that the company has commenced the procedure of obtaining exclusive privileges for the trademark, thereby aiding in the formation of its unique brand persona.

After a successful registration process, the utilization of the ® symbol substantially enhances the brand’s value. The act of legally protecting the trademark signifies this and bestows the brand with an aura of credibility and genuineness. Capitalizing on the strength of the intellectual property through the use of the ® symbol in marketing and promotions contributes to the development of a strong brand equity.

  1. Trademark Dilution and Protection: A lack of comprehensive legal protection associated with registered trademarks may render the TM symbol susceptible to illicit use or imitation in the context of trademark dilution.

Conversely, the ® symbol offers an elevated degree of safeguarding, impeding prospective infringers. Statutory protection confers enhanced security and dominion upon the registered trademark, thereby benefiting the enterprise.

  1. International Recognition: The ® symbol carries significant currency for enterprises that aspire to operate globally. This indicates that the trademark enjoys international and domestic protection, thereby establishing a robust framework for the brand’s expansion into foreign markets.

Why Does it Matter?

To reiterate a critical aspect, trademark law is a complex field in which ostensibly inconsequential choices can have significant ramifications, particularly when errors occur, which regrettably transpire frequently. Considering the intricate nature of this legal field, it is advisable to consult with a trademark attorney for assistance. Although this list is not comprehensive, it does provide a concise overview of the reasons why it is prudent to seek the advice of a trademark attorney.

Online discourse frequently revolves around the notion that the application of symbols such as ℏ or ® and the act of registering a trademark is inconsequential and unrelated to the degree of protection an individual obtains. This may be true in specific geographical areas, but it is not universal.

‘Common law’ refers to the ability to employ a word, phrase, or logo as a trademark in numerous nations without formal registration. Although ‘common law’ use offers a certain degree of protection, it falls short of the legal safeguards available to the proprietor of a registered trademark.

Utilizing the TM symbol strategically when registration is not desired or possible may be considered a tactical manoeuvre. For example, when registration presents difficulties for your mark or brand due to its descriptive nature, prolonged and consistent usage of the brand may aid in its acquisition of distinctiveness, thereby increasing its potential eligibility for registration. By including the TM symbol in conjunction with the brand, you establish that it has been utilized as a trademark for a significant duration, thereby solidifying its status as a unique identifier for your company in the marketplace.

Why are there so many variations in how different companies use the different trademark symbols?

The assessment of whether to utilize trademark symbols requires a comprehensive evaluation encompassing various factors, given the absence of a universally applicable methodology. Every choice, including incorporating a symbol or not, necessitates careful deliberation, consideration of legal ramifications, and alignment with the overarching marketing or branding strategy.

The decision regarding the use or absence of trademark symbols can differ depending on the level of congruence with one’s brand and the legal obligations specific to one’s jurisdiction. Although it is essential to seek expert guidance to determine the most suitable course of action for your particular circumstance, the subsequent points provide valuable perspectives to contemplate.

Considerable bafflement frequently engulfs individuals is the methodology implemented by major corporations such as Google. Although these businesses possess a multitude of registered trademarks, they may choose not to utilize the symbols that rightfully belong to them. Conversely, they might exercise restraint in employing symbols in specific contexts or platforms, opting to do so in others. This discerning strategy may originate from limitations on using symbols in areas where a legitimate registration is absent. It could be a strategic move for multinational corporations with products sold in regions where they do not have a valid trademark registration to omit symbols associated with their trademarks.


You may include the TM and ® symbols as supplementary visual components, irrespective of whether your mark is a word or a graphic element. Although not required to be in a specific location, these symbols are commonly situated in the upper right or lower right corners. Notably, certain brands might opt to deviate from this convention to some extent.

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