Own-it | Intellectual Property Know-How for Creative Businesses


What does the ® symbol mean?

Published 05.11.09 at 10:14

The presence of an ® symbol signifies that the trade mark has been registered, and warns others not to use it without the necessary permission.

Registration of a trade mark gives a company exclusive use and rights over the trade mark, and entitles them to protection if others use the trade mark without their permission.

  • In order to use the symbol, companies need to apply to have the trade mark registered at the Trade Marks Registry, where it will be examined to ensure it meets the requirements of a trade mark.
  • Using the ® symbol where a trade mark has not been registered is a criminal offence.

If you do not register a trade mark it is still possible to enforce your rights to stop others using your mark. However, it would be necessary to prove that:

  • You have ownership of the mark;
  • There is a reputation surrounding the mark; and
  • Someone else has used the mark and consequently caused you harm.

Content supplied by College of Law students at the Moorgate Centre supervised by Tim Harris of Bird & Bird LLP. Photo credit: CarbonNYC


Please note that this article discusses the legal position in the UK at the time of publication. It provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.


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