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  • Writer's pictureGemma

TM vs R: Understanding the different logo trademarks available for your UK-based business

2 skincare products one with trademark and one with registered trademark

In the dynamic world of business commerce, where competition is fierce and brand identity is everything, logo trademarks serve as invaluable assets. For product-based brands, whether you're creating health food supplements, designing eco-friendly apparel, or have a skincare start-up, logo trademarks are protection of your brand's identity. In this article, we'll explore what trademarks are, the difference between them and why they matter.

What is a Logo Trademark?

A trademark is a symbol, word, phrase, or logo that distinguishes your products or services from those of your competitors. Think of it as your brand's unique signature in the market. From a branding perspective, a trademark is the visual embodiment of your business, capturing its essence in a single mark.

You may have seen some businesses use TM and some use ®, what is the difference between these 2 symbols?

Essentially, TM signifies an unregistered trademark and ® signifies a registered trademark.

The ® symbol can only be used when an entity has legally registered the trademark.

How does a UK based business register a trademark?

In the UK a business can officially register their trademark with the The Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which is the official UK government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights. The process involves submitting an application, paying fees, and meeting specific criteria. Find out more here.

Your trade mark can include:

  • words

  • sounds

  • logos

  • colours

  • a combination of any of these

Why would a business want to use TM instead of R?

Using TM on a logo in the UK signifies that the business is asserting common-law trademark rights to that logo. It serves as notice to others that the logo is being used as a source identifier for their products, even if it's not yet registered.

Registering logo trademarks can become quite costly when you have a company brand and multiple product brands to consider – so this could be an option to protect your subsequence brands.

Although TM doesn't provide the same level of legal protection as the registered trademark symbol ®, it does establish certain rights and can be used as evidence of prior use if a legal dispute arises. This can be valuable in enforcing trademark rights later on.

What is the trademark registration process like?

While registering a trademark might sound like a complex process, it's actually very straight forward. Here's the steps you can expect:

  1. Trademark Search: Start by conducting a comprehensive trademark search to ensure that your chosen mark and words are unique and not already registered by another entity. This step helps you avoid potential legal conflicts and brand confusion.

  2. Submit an Application: Prepare and submit a trademark application to the IPO. Be prepared to provide a clear representation of your mark, specify the goods or services it will cover, and pay the necessary fee to submit your application. There are payment options, so you can chose to pay the full amount, or pay a smaller amount to start the application and get payment protection if your application is denied. If you chose the latter option, the overall amount you pay is slightly more.

  3. Examination: The trademark office will examine your application to ensure it meets all legal requirements. If there are any issues, you may need to make revisions or provide additional documentation.

  4. Publication: Once your application is approved, it will be published in the official trademark journal. This gives other parties an opportunity to oppose the registration if they believe it infringes on their rights.

  5. Registration: If no oppositions are filed or if they are resolved in your favour, your trademark will be registered. You will receive a certificate of registration, a powerful legal document.

  6. Maintenance: To maintain your registered trademark, you must use it continuously in connection with the specified goods or services and renew it every 10 years.

3 benefits of trademarking your brand

  1. Identity and Recognition: A well-crafted trademark is the cornerstone of your brand's identity. It's the face that customers recognise and trust. When consumers see your trademark, it should instantly evoke positive emotions and associations. For SMEs, this recognition can be a game-changer, helping you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

  2. Protection: Trademarks are not just about identity; they're also about protection. By registering your trademark, you gain legal rights to use it exclusively in connection with your products or services. This means that no one else can use a similar mark in a way that might confuse customers. In the cutthroat world of business, this protection is priceless.

  3. Trust and Consistency: In the eyes of consumers, trust is often synonymous with consistency. A strong trademark signifies that your brand is reliable and consistent in delivering quality products. This is particularly vital for product-based businesses where quality and reliability are paramount.


Logo trademarks are not just legal formalities; they are strategic tools that shape how customers perceive your brand. From instant recognition to legal protection and international expansion, trademarks and registered trademarks are indispensable assets in the small business landscape. As a branding agency dedicated to helping small product-based businesses thrive, we recognise that logo trademarks are more than legal necessities; they are your brand's shield. So, if you're a business owner, consider your trademark not just a legal requirement but an essential asset in your brand's journey to success.


Gemma from Emotion Brands, Logo and Branding Designer Bournemouth

About the Author

Gemma is a logo and branding designer at Emotion Brands and enjoys working across strategy and design. During her 20 year career she has worked with global brands, such as Davines, Secret Escapes, Wella Professionals and L'Oréal. She's constantly evolving her skills and enjoys taking a holistic approach to branding, with a particular interest in sustainability and eco print practices.

If you're looking for Branding or Design Agencies in Bournemouth get in touch.

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