When Can I Use the TM Symbol?
Have you ever wondered what the ™ symbol means, how it is different from the ® symbol and when you can use it? Understanding your rights regarding your trade mark is important. It helps you make informed decisions that can have flow-on effects for years to come. There are some differences internationally in how you can use the ™ symbol, so it is important to obtain country-specific advice before you start using the ™ symbol with your trade mark. This article will explore some of the key considerations to think about before you start to use the ™ symbol.
What is the ™ Symbol?
The ™ symbol is a way to notify the public that you intend to trade mark the element you are using. Anyone can use this symbol, regardless of whether you have registered a trade mark application. This is so you can inform the public that you think your mark, logo, words or phrase is an eligible trade mark. Fundamentally, ™ is a sign to the world that you intend to register a trade mark at some point.
While the ™ symbol is useful to inform others that you intend to trade mark the element in question, it may not be enough to protect you in court. This is because the use of the ™ symbol only demonstrates your future actions but does not itself constitute a trade mark registration. However, it can show that you will be willing to defend your trade mark in court if your right to use it is disputed. This is a great way to notify the public that you are active in managing your trade mark portfolio.
When Can I Use the ™ Symbol?
You can use the ™ symbol to show that you intend to register your interest in the mark you are using it on. This acts as notice to the world that you have an interest in the mark and that you intend to apply in the future.
For example, say you start a new business that sells red beach balls, and your logo is the phrase ‘Bouncing Around the Clock’ superimposed onto a red beach ball. You intend on registering this trade mark. You could insert the ™ symbol to the top right of the mixed graphic. This would let people know that you intend to lodge a trade mark application over the composite mark of the ball and the phrase. You could continue to use the ™ symbol during the registration process. Once IP Australia has registered the trade mark, you could then change the symbol to the ® symbol, showing that you had received registration for your trade mark.
How to Properly Use the ™ Symbol
The ™ symbol needs to be clearly visible on the mark you are using it with. Generally, the preferred location is on the top right-hand corner of the mark. However, this location may not work for your brand, so you can decide to place it at the lower right-hand corner of the mark. The rule is that the ™ symbol needs to be placed after the mark, so anywhere immediately following the relevant mark is fine, with the top right corner being the convention.
Issues With Using the ™ Symbol
Some jurisdictions do not allow you to use the ™ symbol as you can in Australia. For example, in Germany, you can only use the ™ symbol with registered trade marks. This is because Germany found that using ™ on unregistered trade marks was misleading under their consumer laws. Various other jurisdictions have restrictions like this with using the ™ symbol. It is important to consider the rules of each country you intend to trade in before you use the ™ symbol.
Before deciding on the placement of the ™ symbol on your trade mark, you should consider:
- what countries you plan on operating in;
- whether you plan on filing a trade mark application; and
- if you have already registered the trade mark.
If you have any questions about using the ™ symbol on your mark properly or need trade mark legal assistance, contact our experienced trade mark lawyers on 1300 657 423 or fill out the form on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use the ™ symbol on an unregistered trade mark. The ™ symbol is intended for use on trade mark elements before those elements are registered.
Convention suggests that the best spot to put the ™ symbol is to the top right of the trade mark. However, the only rule is that the ™ symbol must come immediately after the mark.
It depends on the country. While many countries allow the ™ symbol on unregistered trade marks, some notable exceptions, including Germany, do not. It is always diligent to do your research on what the countries you operate in allow.