Difference between Trademark ™, Registered ® and Copyright © symbols

The Trademark ™, Registered ® and Copyright © symbols are all used to represent the right of the owner for that particular intellectual property. While the ™ and ® symbols are used in connection with trademarks, the © symbol refers to copyrights.

In short, 

™ Symbol - represents trademarks for which an application for registration has been filed with IP India

® Symbol - represents registered trademarks

© symbol - means copyright.

What are Trademarks?

A trademark is any distinctive mark, including words, devices, symbols, numbers, colours or a combination thereof, which is used to represent and identify the source of a particular product or service, distinguishing it from those of others.

The right of a trademark marks is granted on first come first serve basis, unless in instances of passing-off or if prior use is proven.

To intimate the fact that a particular mark is an intellectual property of someone else, two types of symbols are used. They are as follows:

1. Applied Trademark Symbol - ™

In India, the owner of the mark can use the symbol next to his/her mark when the application for trademark registration has been successfully filed with the IP India. It is used to represent the fact that registration for the particular trademark is already in the process, and thus, acts as a warning for infringers.

2. Registered Trademark Symbol - ®

The R symbol represents the fact that the trademark has been successfully registered with the Indian Trademarks Registry.

Once the trademark is registered, it gives the owner of the mark exclusive rights to use the mark to represent his/her goods or services. No one else would be able to use the mark without the permission or license of the trademark proprietor. Therefore, the ® symbol warns others about the fact that the trademark has already been registered.

Use of the Trademark Symbols in India

In India, there is no obligation to use the ® or symbols along with your trademarks in order to actually claim or secure the rights for the same. The Paris Convention also expresses the same in Article 5.

Recommended use of Trademark Symbols

Despite the fact that use of trademarks symbols is not mandatory, it is recommended as it warns infringers.

As a Visual Element

The ™ and ® symbols can be used as a visual element along with your mark, irrespective of the fact whether the mark is a word or a graphic mark.

Although there is no fixed placement, the mark is usually placed on the top right or bottom right corners. However, some brands don't always follow this. For instance, brands like Celio have no option but to place the symbol elsewhere as the top right-hand corner is already occupied by their signature red dot.

Interestingly, certain brands like Jean-Louis David have placed the registered trademark R symbol as a part of the graphic design of their mark. 

Trademark Policy

Large companies also draft an Intellectual property policy that mainly consists of trademarks, as a mandatory requirement that is to be used by subsidiaries, partner companies, distributors and licensees.

Territorial Use

Since trademarks are territorial, the symbol can be used only in the country where the registration is initiated (in the case of TM) or successful (in the case of R). In case your products are exported to the USA, but you have only a valid registration in India, you cannot use the symbol in the USA.

What are Copyrights?

A copyright is a right that is granted to the original creator for works that are a result of his/her intellect, talent and skill. These works are usually classified as literary, artistic, cinematographic films, musical work and sound recording. 

Unlike Trademarks, a registration is not mandatory to be able to use the copyright symbol. A copyright comes into force immediately when the work is expressed in a tangible medium. Therefore no formalities are needed to use the symbol.

Copyright Symbol - ©

The © symbol or the word ‘copyright’ serves a notice the public to show that a particular work is copyright protected and that the owner’s permission is required to reproduce the work or to monetary gain from it in any manner.

The © symbol is usually followed by the name of the creator and the year of creation.

Use of Copyright Symbols in India

A notice of copyright is added along with most creative works like books, movies, videos and photographs. 

The copyright notice contains the copyright symbol, followed by the name of the rightful owner of the mark, and the year of creation. 

  • Your copyright notice will look something like this:

Copyright © Joanne K Rowling 1997, or, 

Copyright © 1997 by Joanne K Rowling

  • In case the Copyright is registered, then the notice would also contain phrases like 'All rights reserved'. 


When it comes to registration of by trademarks and copyright, registration is always recommended, as it acts as prima facie evidence, it provides a solid base in a situation of infringement. It not only warns others from using your intellectual property assets but also allows you to claim damages for infringement.

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