The representations TM symbol and ® symbol can be very confusing to the untrained eye. While most people think that they can be used as substitutes as they mean the same thing. But, in reality, they connote entirely different things. It thus becomes important to know and understand the difference between trademark symbol. For the simple reason that knowing the difference will dictate and ensure that they are used in the right context.
Before understanding the difference between the trademark symbol and ® mark symbol, it is first important to know that a trademark may be registered or unregistered. When a business has a trademark, it does not always mean that the trademark is registered. Not all businesses choose to register their trademark.
Difference between TM symbol and ® symbol
This brings us to the difference; when a brand name has TM symbol as a suffix, this means that the trademark is not registered. You can only use the TM symbol even if you have initiated the process of registering your trademark, not the ® sign. The trademark symbol sends out a signal to potential infringers that you are claiming the trademark. If anybody infringes the trademark the remedy is not a statutory remedy, it is the common law remedy of passing off.
® symbol means that the trademark has been registered (the registration process is complete). Once the registration of your trademark has been approved by the appropriate authority and has been published in the Trademark Registry you can use the ® symbol. This indicates that any infringement will mean that the aggrieved party can resort to a statutory remedy and seek compensation from the infringer.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you cannot use ® symbol for an unregistered trademark. Particularly, you can not use ® symbol to your trademark unless and until it has been registered. You can only use TM symbol for the unregistered trademark.