The symbols ‘TM’ and ‘R’ are the two symbols that we regularly see and are associated with Trademark. Each symbolizes the different types of Trademarks. Where ‘R’ stands for Registered Trademark, ‘TM’ stands for Unregistered Trademark. The trademark can be a signature, symbol, logo, and design etc. followed by the symbol in superscript.

 Trademark refers to intellectual property that protects the owner’s mark with exclusive right to use it or to authorize another person/entity to use the trademark with the owner’s permission for adequate consideration. It is something that identifies the origin of a product.

Registered Trademark

A registered trademark is a trademark registered under the Trademarks Act, 1999. A “registered trademark” grants the registered owner exclusive rights, including the exclusive use of the mark in relation to the products or services. A trademark is registered for a period of ten years and is renewable. The Trademarks Act of 1999 governs the entire registration process. 

Why register

  • It identifies the origin of goods and services
  • Advertises goods and services
  • Guards the commercial goodwill of a trader
  • Protects buyers from buying the second rate quality goods

Registration grants the mark a monopoly right in a specific territory. It prevents the unauthorized use of the registered trademark in relation to goods and services. The test is always whether a consumer will be confused as to the identity of the source or origin of the goods or services. Infringement of registered trademarks can result in legal action, and registration reduces the plaintiff’s burden of proof.

Any person or entity claiming to be the owner of a trademark used or to be used in the future may apply for registration to the Registrar, of the area of authority under whom the applicant’s place of business falls, in the manner prescribed for trademark registration. In India, registering a trademark takes about 2 to 3 years (when there is no opposition from a third party).

Unregistered Trademark

Unregistered trademarks are trademarks not registered under the Trademarks Act of 1999. Because trademark registration is not mandated by law, the owner of an unregistered trademark can add the letter “TM” as a superscript to the mark to indicate to the public that it is an unregistered trademark.

An “unregistered trademark” has no legal protection. However, in some cases, an unregistered trademark may be eligible for common law protection. Though the Act prohibits unregistered trademarks from being sued for infringement, they can be protected under the common law tort of passing off. To succeed in a passing-off action, however, it is necessary to demonstrate that an unregistered trademark has a comparable reputation or goodwill with respect to the goods or services with which it is used.

How to register a Trademark in India


The Trade Marks Act deals with protections that are only applicable to registered trademarks, registered trademarks are more secure and protected than unregistered trademarks. To summarize, it is always preferable to register a trademark, even if it is not required in India and many other countries. There are several benefits of registering a trademark. Registration protects it from any infringement action, which provides some relief to registered trademark holders.

Registered trademark holders can file a legal suit for infringement, and because the trademark is registered, the holder does not bear the burden of proof. Registered trademarked products have a better brand image in the market and are preferred by consumers over unregistered trademarks. Finally, but most importantly, registration is very important for brand development and is the key to the growth of trade and commerce.

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