top of page

【Trademark Symbol】What are the differences among ™, ® and © symbols?

Trademark Symbol

We often see these three symbols in different places: , ® and ©. Although they have been used to represent different intellectual properties and their status, not everyone understand exactly what they mean.

In this article, we would explain to you the differences among these three symbols.


The TM Symbol ™ and The Registered Trademark Symbol®

Next to or in the upper right hand corner of a brand name, you might often find the symbols and ®. When you see them, you can consider the brand name bearing them a trademark. But be careful, that does not automatically mean that these names are necessarily registered trademarks! And sometimes, you might even find that they are used to indicate something that is not a brand name (such as a person's name).

The meaning of , as people could easily imagine, is an abbreviation for TradeMark. Yet, if you find a symbol next to a brand name, it only means that the owner of the brand (intentionally) uses this brand as a trademark to represent the products/ services provided, but it does not mean that the brand/logo is a registered trademark.

For ®, on the other hand, means that a brand name is a registered trademark. Please be aware that adding or using the ® symbol next to a brand name/logo is limited to a registered trademark only, as it is a criminal offence to use it on an unregistered trademark.

When to use the symbols ™ and ® ?

Since the TM symbol is only used to indicate a brand name/logo is intended to be used as a trademark and does not necessarily represent a registered trademark, you can consider adding a symbol next to your brand/logo if your trademark application is pending (with the trademark yet to be registered), in order to promote that the brand/logo is a trademark. By doing so, you could also deliver a message of warning, to inform the others not to use the brand/logo.

For ®, since it straightly means that the brand has been registered as a trademark, it must be added to the brand/logo only after the trademark application is successful. Usage of the registered trademark symbol must be with adequate care.

The Copyright Symbol ©

The copyright symbol ©, is used to indicate that a work is copyrighted. The symbol has nothing to do with trademarks. Typical copyrightable works include photos, pictures, websites, articles, music, video etc..

The usual way of using this copyright symbol is to add © to a piece of work, followed by the year of creation of the work, and then the name of the copyright holder. (For example, © 2023. Actualis Advisors Limited.)

The purpose of using the copyright symbol © is to indicate a piece of work is copyrighted, owned by a certain creator, and to warn others not to infringe the rights of the work nor use it without consent.


We hope that next time when you see these symbols, you will be able to distinguish their meanings, and more importantly, use them correctly!

Actualis is an intellectual property agent focusing on trademark registration and protection services, packed with extensive experience on different industries. If you have any question on trademark or copyright, feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation: (email:; Whatsapp/ Telephone: +852 9545 3177).


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page