What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a way to legally protect a brand or symbol and it shows that the item has exclusive properties and it belongs to the owner. This means it cannot be copied in the same form, at least not legally. The symbol used to indicate ownership of the item is ™, and if this has been officially registered it is a Registered Trademark which then has the symbol ®. The difference between these two forms of protection is that a ‘TM’ is a simple trademark, and while this can be registered with local authorities or be in the process of being officially registered, it does not offer as much protection as a Registered Trademark which has been officially registered – and accepted – by the national patent office.

A trademark shows a product belongs to one source, and a good trademark makes the company easily distinguishable, (think of McDonald’s big ‘M’).

Any new logo, name or symbol designed and developed by a person or company can have the ‘TM’ symbol, but unless it is officially registered a competitor can and may produce something similar, (or even the same), and while the ‘TM’ article was the first on the market, this is not always easy to prove without the further proof of registering it.

Once registered, another company cannot produce the same item using the same name and logo, so it protects the manufacturer or inventor much more than the unregistered TM.

Basically ‘TM’ suggests the item belongs to someone, while ® shows it to be legally the property of another, that is the reason registering your Trademark is a good idea. You are legally protected and your brand is as safe from imitations as you can make it. If someone does set out to copy your Registered Trademark, you can legally prove this is a copy and potentially damaging to your business.

In the members area is the full version of this Information Sheet which covers:

-       Trademarks, Patents and Copyright

-       What can Trademarks be applied to

-       Before Applying for a Trademark

-       Costs and the Application Process

-       Trademark Scams

-       What we Recommend

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