We’ve all see the letters TM next to logos.
What does it mean and why do they put it there?
As many of you know, these initials stand for “Trade Mark”, “Trademark” or in Canadian legal terms, “Trade-Mark”. It’s a legal term informing the public that this logo is protected by law and as such can’t be copied, duplicated or used without legal permission from the owner.
If you see the ® (R) symbol, this too is a Trademark symbol, but simply means “Registered Trademark”. And there is also another symbol which is the SM symbol, which stands for “Service Mark”.
So what’s the difference between a TM and a ® (R) symbol? It’s simple, the ® (R) is stronger. TM represents an unregistered trademark, whereas ® (R) represents one that as been registered by a legal government trademark service, and thereby has more protections in courts of law. You can register your symbol or logo with a trademark lawyer or government service in any country, but that registration is only good for the country in which it was issued.
In Canada, this process takes about a year. A “trade-mark” is registered by filing an application with the Trade-Marks Office. Initially it costs $250 for each trade-mark applied for and takes 4 months for the trademark examiners to search for any trademarks that might be too similar or have other conflicts with yours. Once this process is completed successfully, the trade-mark information is then published in the Trade-Marks Journal. If the Trade-Marks Office receives no objection within two months of publication in the Trade-Marks Journal, the Trade-Marks Office issues a “notice of allowance” of the application for registration. Then it’s on to registration ® (R), where a fee of two hundred dollars ($200.00) per trade-mark must be paid by the applicant within six months of the date of the notice of allowance.
In the United States, the registration process is very similar.
Trademarks rights must be maintained through actual lawful use of the trademark. These rights will cease if a mark is not actively used for a period of five years in most jurisdictions. In America, failure to use a trademark for this period of time will result in abandonment of the mark. So, at the five year date, you can file an affidavit stating that the mark is still in use, which will carry forward your ownership until the ten year anniversary where your trademark must be renewed.
So, lets talk about UN-registered Trademarks.
How does that work?
Unregisted Trademarks – What You Should Know.
An unregistered trademark is a mark that has not been registered at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, or U.S. Patent and Trademark Office etc. does actually offer you some protection, as long as you are actively using that trademark and as long as it is not in violation of an existing Registered “®” Trademark. Unregistered trademarks are protected under Common Law Trade-Marks Act. It’s protection can come from what is known as Good Will, which is to say that the “good will” or positive reputation that has been developed by a business using a name and logo has been well established. So if another company comes into the same geographic area and tries to use your existing name and logo in the hopes that the well established good reputation will benefit them, you can sue them (under trademark rights) to prevent them from poaching your name and logo. However, this only works within the relevant geographic area, not world-wide.
- ™ – TM – Unregistered Trademark: A mark used to promote or brand goods.
- ® – (R) – Registered Trademark.
- ℠ – SM – Unregistered Servicemark: A mark used to promote or brand services.
- ℗ – (P) – Sound Recording Copyright.
So, if you’re planning on taking your company and your trademark globally immediately, then by all means, get it trademarked. If you’re not worried about someone stealing your logo, then put that energy into building a great reputation, a strong company with amazing products & services and stellar customer service.
Best Of Luck!