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Trade Mark Symbols and How to Use Them

Using trade mark symbols is important to help identify your mark as being owned by you. It is not a requirement to use trade mark symbols in connection with your brand but it put competitors on notice that you take your intellectual property rights seriously and will enforce those rights.

The ®, ™ and SM symbols are trade mark symbols. These operate as a notice to others, that your brand is protected under trade mark law and that you have the exclusive right to use those marks in connection with the supply of your claimed goods or services.

So, what’s the difference between the ®, ™ and SM symbols?

The ® Symbol. The ® symbol is used to designate registered trade marks. It is illegal to use the ® symbol if your trade mark is not registered and penalties apply under Australian law for the improper use of the registered trademark symbol ®.

The ™ Symbol. The ™ symbol can be generally used with any trade mark to indicate that your brand operates as a “trade mark” although there is no registered status. There are no penalties for using the TM symbol.

The SM Symbol. The SM symbol is used for a trade mark mark specifically used for services, rather than products.

If your trade mark is registered overseas but not in Australia, you can also use the symbol, but you need to show the country of registration in close proximity to it.

Attribution Statement

An attribution statement can be used in advertisements, product packaging, manuals, marketing collateral, web pages, and any other materials.

If the trade mark is registered:

“ABC is a registered trade mark of DEF Pty Ltd.”

If the trade mark is not registered:

“ABC is a trade mark of DEF Pty Ltd.”

Takeaway points:

  • Register your trade mark to use the ® symbol and protect your trade mark rights under the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth)
  • It is an offence to use ® symbol if your trade mark is not registered
  • An attribution statement can be used in advertisements and other materials to accompany a trade mark symbol
  • Use trade mark symbols to put others on notice of your trade mark rights.

Svethlana Milanes, ABComm

Contact W3IP Law on 1300 776 614 or 0451 951 528 for more information about any of our services or get in touch at
Disclaimer. The material in this post represents general information only and should not be taken to be legal advice.

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