The symbols ®, TM and SM are used to signal a claim over a trademark.
However, what is the difference between the trademark symbols TM , SM and ® ?
The symbol ®, known as registered trademark symbol, is used as a notice of legal ownership over a mark that has been registered with a national trademark office. Consequently, this symbol should be only used to indicate a registered trademark or service mark. The use of this symbol for unregistered trademarks may constitute ground for accusation of fraud or attempt at misleading customers etc.
On the other hand, the symbols TM and SM can be used for unregistered trademarks by whoever wishes to claim rights over a trademark or a service mark.
The symbol TM is used for tangible products and goods, while the symbol SM refers to the provision of services. In case your mark covers both tangible products and services, then the symbol TM is recommended.
No application is required in order to be able to use these symbols. By doing so, you notify your competitors that your business is in the process of registration or that it claims or may claim in the future ownership over a mark, which can be a name, a tagline, a logo or any other identifying sign.
However, please note that the use of TM and SM does not grant protection under trademark laws.
For information on the recent EU trademark reforms, you can read our related article.