Trademark Basics: What Does TM, SM & R in a Logo Signify?

You can easily recognize the logos of international brands such as Starbucks or Nike or McDonald’s (the iconic golden arches) from anywhere in the world. However, have you noticed another small symbol  R (®) that often appears along with the logo? Similarly, some logos may contain a ‘TM’ or an ‘SM’ symbol instead of the  R (®). What do these symbols mean? If you are planning to conduct trademark registration in the UAE or anywhere in the world, you must know what these trademark symbols signify.

Being one of the top trademark agents in the UAE, we are keen to help you understand trademark basics like this. Let us dive right in:

The Fundamentals of Trademark Symbols

You may see three trademark identifiers in various places including on product packaging, company signage, physical or digital advertising materials, or other contexts. They are:

The Use of the TM Symbol in a Logo

The term TM is an abbreviation for the word trademark. According to the International Trademark Association (INTA), the symbol TM is commonly used to represent an unregistered mark. Consult with trademark agents in the UAE for further information.

The Use of the SM Symbol in a Logo

The SM symbol is an abbreviation for Service Mark. A service mark functions as a trademark. However, it represents a service rather than a product. Like the TM symbol, an SM symbol is used to denote trademarks that are not registered. An SM symbol is the least used of the three trademark symbols.

The Use of the R (®) Symbol in a Logo

The R (®) symbol in a logo represents a trademark registered with at least one national and/or regional IP office of any jurisdiction. You should only use the symbol if the specific IP office has formally granted you trademark protection. UAE trademark agents can advise you whether your logo qualifies for using the R symbol.

What is the Difference Between the R, SM, and TM Symbols?

There fundamental difference between the R and TM/SM symbols is simple to understand. The R symbol can only be applied to trade or service marks that have been registered with an IP authority such as the UAE Ministry of Economy, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), or the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The TM and SM symbols, on the contrary, can be used on any unregistered mark that would meet the conventional definition of a trademark — i.e., a logo, symbol, catchphrase, image, drawing, or some combination thereof.

Which Symbol Carries more Legal Weight?

An R symbol denoting a registered trademark carries more legal weight than the other two trademark symbols. This is because a registered trademark enjoys more legal protection than an unregistered mark in most jurisdictions including in the UAE. If a competitor or a counterfeiter misuses your registered trademark, it will amount to trademark infringement. If you have already registered the trademark, it would be easier for you to take legal action against the infringer.

The TM and SM symbols represent unregistered marks. If someone infringes an unregistered trademark, it would be difficult for the owner of the unregistered mark to take legal action against the infringer. For example, if someone applies for trademark registration in the UAE for a mark identical or similar to yours, you need to provide evidence of commercial use to defend your unregistered mark. You will have to spend more money and time to defend your unregistered mark in such cases. Trademark agents in the UAE advise you to conduct trademark registration for your valuable marks.

Is the C © Symbol Connected to any Trademark Symbol?

You may have often seen the C © symbol and thought of it as related to trademarks. However, a © symbol denoted copyright. It is often associated with published literary works created by an author. The © symbol will often be followed by the year of publication and the name of the creator.

Hire the Best Trademark Agents in the United Arab Emirates

We hope that the article has provided you with the fundamentals of trademark protection in the UAE, especially the use of trademark symbols. If you are still confused about how to use the most important trademark symbols, talk to the best trademark agents in the UAE such as Jitendra Intellectual Property (JIP). JIP is one of the most experienced Intellectual Property firms in the UAE that can help you in protecting your valuable trademarks. JIP’s trademark services in the UAE include trademark registration, trademark assignment, trademark search, trademark watch etc.

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