‘Something to do with trademarks’ – lots of people know roughly what they are dealing with if they see ® or ™ next to the name of a product. ‘Oh yes, and the © is something to do with copyright, isn’t it?’ If you want to know exactly what these symbols mean, and how you should use them as an entrepreneur, read on.
- There is no obligation in Europe to use the ®, ™ or © signs.
- What is more, these symbols have no legal standing in Europe.
- You may use them though – and that can sometimes be very useful.
®, ™ and © afford no protection in Europe
Use of the ®, ™ and © symbols originated in the United States. Trademark protection and copyright rules there are different to those in Europe.
Here in Europe ®, ™ and © have no legal standing. They also do not afford any form of protection. However, under certain circumstances you may use them though, and that can sometimes be very useful.
Registered trademark: ®
The ® symbol stands for ‘registered trademark’. In the United States, this allows you to show the outside world that a trademark has been officially registered. In Europe, that aspect has been regulated differently. Here, you do not have to show that the trademark has been officially registered. It can already be seen from the reference in the Trademarks Register.
You may use the ® symbol though. By using the ® symbol you reinforce your trademark and you signal credibility to your customers. It is also free! A warning though: if you use the ® symbol without any official registration, this can be seen as misleading advertising.
Read here how you can strengthen your trademark using the ® symbol.
In the United States, the ™ symbol indicates a trademark that is in use but has not yet been registered. In Europe, and therefore also in the Benelux, we only work with registered trademarks. The ™ symbol has no significance here in Europe and is therefore less suitable for use.
© stands for ‘copyright’. This has nothing to do with trademarks. There is also no need to apply for it. This is a right you gain automatically, when you take a photo or when you write a text, for instance.
However, it may be useful for you to indicate through the © symbol that your work is protected by copyright. It may deter others from using your work without permission.
In short: in the Benelux, registering your trademark is more important than using symbols.
Would you like to know more about registering your name or your logo? Our expert Tineke gives you some useful tips in this video.