The trademark symbols “®” and “™”: why, when and how to use them

Introduction

Companies often use the symbols “®” and “™” to show the status of their trademarks. However, they are, at times, used incorrectly and trademark owners may not be aware that misuse can have significant consequences. The “®” means that a mark has been registered with the governing body of the country, while the “™” means that the mark has not been registered but is in use by the company.

In some countries such as Mexico, Chile, Peru, Philippines, the marking is compulsory, in the sense that in the absence of any marking with the symbol “®”, a trademark registration cannot be opposed against third parties.

For the countries where the use of the symbols is not mandatory, companies should take into consideration that this could have dissuasive influence on third parties, as a warning that the owner of the trademark will defend against unauthorized use.

As the rules may vary from country to country, we aim to provide an overview of the characteristics of specific countries, as well as some details and advice about the proper use of these symbols and how to avoid potential problems.

The “®” sign

The “®” symbol is used by companies to inform consumers and future trademark applicants that their sign is a registered trademark. It is usually placed on the right-hand side of the trademark, superscripted, and in a smaller type size than the mark itself.