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Understanding company name registration and trademark protection, what do the symbols mean?

Understanding company name registration and trademark protection, what do the symbols mean?

Company name registration vs. trademark registration

Although the terms "company name" and "trademark" are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to different legal concepts. It is crucial to understand the differences between them to ensure adequate protection for your business and its intellectual property.

Company name registration

A company name is the official name under which a company trades and is registered with the relevant government body, such as the Commercial Register or the Trade Licensing Office. The main purpose of company name registration is to create a unique identity for your business and avoid confusion with other companies in the same jurisdiction.

When you register a company name, you secure the right to use that name for business activities such as opening bank accounts, entering into contracts and representing your company to the public. However, company name registration does not grant you exclusive rights to the name or its elements and does not prevent others from using similar names in other industries or geographic regions.

Brand registration

A trademark, on the other hand, is a memorable word, phrase, symbol, design or combination thereof that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods or services from others. Trademarks are a form of intellectual property and registering a trademark grants you exclusive rights to use that trademark in connection with the specified goods or services within the geographic area covered by the registration.

The main purpose of trademark registration is to prevent others from using confusingly similar trademarks in the same or related industries, thus protecting your brand identity and reputation. A registered trademark is a valuable asset that helps you build brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Registration of a trade name

Instead of setting up an additional company, companies can register an additional name that belongs to the existing company. This name can be used as a separate company name for projects that do not quite match the main name. After a Brand name registration only TM/SM may be used, after Trademark registration the ® symbol.

What do brand symbols mean?

"TM", "SM" and "®" Trademarks have certain symbols that can be used to indicate the status of a trademark:

  1. "TM" (Trademark) and "SM" (Service Mark): These symbols indicate an unregistered but registered trademark or service mark. They serve as an indication to the public that you are the owner of the mark and intend to protect it from unauthorized use. The "TM" symbol is used for trademarks associated with goods, while the "SM" symbol is used for service marks.

Example: If a company offers specialized software called "DataSafe™" or a consulting service called "ConsultXpert℠", they can use the appropriate symbol to indicate their claim to the mark before it is officially registered.

  1. "®" (Registered trademark): The "®" symbol, typically shown as a superscript or subscript, indicates that the trademark is officially registered with the appropriate national trademark authority. . This symbol provides the strongest legal protection for your trademark as it informs the public of your exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the specified goods or services.

Example: Once a company has successfully registered its software as "DataSafe®" or its consulting service as "ConsultXpert®", it can use the registered trademark symbol to identify its exclusive rights.

It is important to note that while the use of these symbols is not mandatory, they are a valuable tool in asserting your ownership and deterring potential infringers from using similar marks.

Examples and scenarios

To further illustrate the concepts, let's look at some scenarios:

  1. A retail store that offers a loyalty card called "SOLIDCARD":
    • If the main purpose of "SOLIDCARD" is to provide a discount service to customers, it would be appropriate to use the "SM" symbol to indicate an unregistered service mark.
    • Once the "SOLIDCARD" service is officially registered as a trademark, the retail store can use the "®" symbol to indicate its registered status.
  2. A company that offers a special spyware removal service called "Removermento":
    • The registered name of the company (e.g. "CyberSafe Solutions") would typically not require a trademark symbol.
    • For the service name "Removermento", the "SM" symbol could be used as an unregistered service mark.
    • Once "Removermento" has been successfully registered as a trademark, the company can replace the "SM" symbol with "®" to indicate the registered status.
  3. A software company that sells a physical product such as a USB stick with pre-installed software called "DataShield":
    • Since "DataShield" is a physical product, the appropriate symbol would be "TM" for an unregistered trademark.
    • Once the "DataShield" trademark is registered, the company can use the "®" symbol to indicate the registered status.

Proper use of these symbols is critical to establishing your rights, deterring infringement and effectively communicating the status of your intellectual property to the public and potential competitors.


In summary, company name registration secures your right to operate under a particular business name, while trademark registration grants you the exclusive rights to use a memorable trademark in connection with your goods or services. The strategic use of the "TM", "SM" and "®" symbols play a crucial role in protecting your brand identity and intellectual property.

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Disclaimer: Please note that the above dates, tax rates and regulations may change over time. Do not make any independent decisions without first consulting an expert for your individual situation. It is in your interest to always receive individual information from an experienced expert who knows your situation.

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