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FAQ

  • What precautionary measures are to be taken when referring to patent protection? Answer

Established 1925

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between the symbols ®, TM and SM?
The ® symbol stands for the word "Registered". Used in conjunction with a trademark it indicates that the trademark is registered and duly protected for specific products/services.

The symbols TM and SM are often used too. TM stands for trademark ("Trade Mark") and SM for service mark ("Service Mark").

Although there is no obligation in Switzerland and most other countries to use these symbols in conjunction with a protected trademark, they are broadly used to make clear that a sign marked with one of these symbols is a protected trademark/service mark.

Use of these symbols in conjunction with a protected trademark/service mark on the other hand can be helpful for preventing a trademark from becoming the generic and usual name for the product itself. In particular for new and revolutionary products or services there often does not yet exist an established product name and there is a risk that the trademark is used as and becomes the product's ordinary name. If a trademark mutated into the name of the product itself, the trademark's protection might become inefficient or impossible, and the exclusive right to use the protected trademark cannot successfully be enforced any longer.

In the USA use of the ® symbol in connection with a registered trademark constitutes a condition for obtaining extensive damages in the course of court proceedings for trademark infringement.

In certain Anglo-Saxon countries - in particular in the USA - the mere use of a sign can procure protective trademark rights without a formal registration. Use of the symbols TM or SM can draw the public's attention to the existence of such rights based on mere use, and the symbols TM or SM therefore can have legal advantages in the case of trademark infringement.

In Switzerland and most countries trademark protection exists in the case of a formal registration only.

From the moment of the trademark's formal registration for the product or service it distinguishes, the symbol ® can be used without risk. But as long as the trademark or service mark has not been formally registered for the respective product or service, use of the ® symbol should be avoided.

The same rule applies for use of the ® symbol in conjunction with a trademark not registered in a country where the trademarked products or services are marketed.

Special attention is therefore necessary to avoid improper or misleading use of the ® symbol as such improper or misleading use might have undesired legal consequences.