You are currently viewing What is the difference between the TM (™) and R (®)?

What is the difference between the TM (™) and R (®)?


What is the difference between the TM (™) and R (®)?

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a design, symbol, word, sound or phrase that identifies the source of products or services and distinguishes them from competitors’ offerings. Business names, logos, slogans, jingles and product labels can all be protected by trademark law. Different trademark symbols are used to indicate how the mark is protected.
A trademark is generally a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.
Trademark registration in India are used to identify a company or brand, it makes the most sense to file for trademark protection on the brand name, logo or image. So, if you are investing in a brand image, you should seek a trademark registration to protect it. But, your image may also qualify for copyright protection as well.
The TM symbol is used when an application for trademark is made with the trademark registry. The TM symbol is thus used to indicate the fact that a trademark application exists with respect to the trademark and serves as a warning for infringers and counter-fitters.

Should you include a trademark symbol in your logo?

The ® symbol means ‘registered’ and therefore can only be used once the mark has been officially registered with the trademark office of your country, not while the application is pending—that’s the Intellectual Property Office in the UK and the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in the USA.
‘TM’ and ‘SM’ are typically used to protect unregistered marks, meaning you don’t have to apply for registration to use them.
They both give notice of ownership of rights alerting potential infringers that the mark is being claimed as a trademark. They offer no real legal protection but can, however, be used as a deterrent.
‘SM’ means ‘service mark’ and is supposed to be used for services, whereas ‘TM’ (trademark) should be used for goods. However, ™ is commonly applied to both.
Related Topic:

How to Trademark a Logo

How to protect a trademark

So, although registration of a trademark is not necessary, it’s certainly one of the best ways to help protect your business’s logo, brand name, or slogan.

First, you’ll want to do a trademark search to ensure that your branding materials are not already in use. Additionally, you might decide to work with a trademark lawyer to assist in trademark registration, however, you can also complete an online application yourself through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website.

This being said, if, for example, you wanted to trademark your business name, you would check with your state trademark office to make sure the name is not currently in use, and then complete the registration process. Along these lines, it’s important to note that there’s a difference between state and federal trademark registration, with the latter offering the most legal protection.

Moreover, when it comes to a business name specifically, you can register a business name with your state or county clerk by filing a DBA, but this is not the same as trademarking your business name.

Ultimately, if you do register your trademark with the USPTO, you’ll use the registered trademark symbol “®” to indicate that your property is legally trademarked.

On the other hand, if your trademark is not registered through the USPTO, you can use the ™ symbol to signify common-law rights in a trademark, similar to the way copyright law works. In this case,™ is used for goods, whereas ℠ is used for services.

Again, before using these symbols, you’ll want to make sure what your trademarking isn’t already in use—and remember, just because something doesn’t have a symbol by it doesn’t mean it’s not legally trademarked.

What is Copyright?

Copyright refers to the legal right of the owner of intellectual property. In simpler terms, copyright is the right to copy. This means that the original creators of products and anyone they give authorization to are the only ones with the exclusive right to reproduce the work.

Works That Can be Protected Under Copyright Law

  • Architectural drawings, plans, and buildings.
  • Sound recordings.
  • Any audiovisual work, including motion pictures.
  • Graphic, pictorial, and sculptural works.
  • Choreographic works and pantomimes.
  • Any dramatic work and its accompanying music.

Names, titles and short phrases and expressions can’t be copyrighted either. This means you can’t own the exclusive rights to any slogan, product description, title of work or business name.
The Copyright Office now has online copyright registration available through its website. The filing fee is between $35 and $55. You must file an archive copy of the material to be copyrighted with your application. Copyright registration applications are typically processed in less than a year.

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!
Related Topic:
Procedure for Copyright Registration

® – R Symbol

The © is a substitute sign for the word copyright. It is usually followed by the year of the publication or creation and the owner’s name. Today the ‘C’ symbol is no longer required to protect your work as it’s automatically protected when the work is created.
Once a trademark is registered, then the applicant can start using the ® symbol next to the trademark. The R symbol signifies that the trademark is registered and enjoys protection from infringement under the Trademark laws. Use of the ® symbol after filing a trademark application or without obtaining trademark registration is unlawful.

How to protect a copyright

As we mentioned briefly above, in addition to what copyright and trademarks protect, another difference between the two is how these intellectual properties are protected.

Again, as we’ve discussed, copyright is generated automatically upon creation of a work, however, there are many precautions you can take to make sure potential copyright infringers don’t use your work without permission.

Here are some examples:

  • Properly marking: You can make sure your work is properly marked, such as signed or with a watermark, and that there’s a clear evolutionary footprint from the work to your business.

  • Poor man’s copyright: This is the practice of sending your own work to yourself, thereby establishing that the material has been in one’s possession for a particular period of time. However, there is no provision in copyright law for any such type of protection, and poor man’s copyright is not a substitute for registration.

  • Creative Commons: Creative Commons offers free copyright licenses that allow you to mark your creative work with the freedoms you want it to carry.

  • Use the copyright symbol: At a minimum, you can use the © symbol to denote a copyrighted work.

Additionally, although not required, you might decide to actually register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. To do so, you’ll have to complete the application process—which includes paying a fee and sending a copy of the work to the U.S. Copyright Office—in order to officially register for your copyright.

Following are the key differences between TM (™) and R (®)

The TM symbol can generally be used by any person or business to indicate that a particular word, phrase or logo is intended to serve as an identifier for the source of that product or service. You do not have to have registered a trademark to use it and many companies will opt to use the TM symbol for new goods or services in advance of and during the application process.
The R symbol indicates that this word, phrase or logo is a registered trademark for the product or service. It must only be used in the case of registered trademarks and by the owner or licensee. It also must only be used in the regions in which you possess a valid trademark registration.
For a layman, the ® symbol and the ™ symbol are replaceable. But that is not true. Symbols ™ and ® convey distinct meanings.


  • One can use the ® symbol after successful registration of the trademark of the business.
  • On the other hand, when the specific product or the service has a trademark pending in registration, it can use the ™ symbol. In such case the ® symbol cannot be used for such occasions as the mark is yet to be approved.

Legalities Involved

  • The ™ trademark symbol has no legal advantage or backing.
  • The ® mark is legally protected and punishable in case of copied by someone else.

Branding Purpose

  • The ™ symbol is usually a preference for the brand identity of the specific company, association, or individual while waiting for the process to conclude.
  • Using ® symbol to market your product or service will give you the confidence to use your IP for building solid brand equity.


Kanakkupillai is your reliable partner for every step of your business journey in India. We offer reasonable and expert assistance to ensure legal compliance, covering business registration, tax compliance, accounting and bookkeeping, and intellectual property protection. Let us help you navigate the complex legal and regulatory requirements so you can focus on growing your business. Contact us today to learn more.