Trade mark marking strategy – R and TM disappearing?

I’m in India this week and the transit through Singapore reminded me of something I noticed in Hong Kong in June:

a pretty standard store in an airport hub.

What’s interesting from an IP perspective is the number of top brands that don’t use R or TM alongside their brands.  (Swatch is here, but you may not be able to pick it out.)

Same thing in Singapore.

There seems to be a negative correlation between the size and popularity of the brand and whether they bother to use the symbols – at least in the (Asian) airport setting.

From an aesthetic point of view, even IP lawyers know that a brand doesn’t look good alongside its R or TM livery.  However, is there a risk here?

Or is it ok once a brand is big enough not to worry with marking it as a brand – because everyone already knows.


and if that’s right – then how big is big enough?

What do you think?











3 Comments on “Trade mark marking strategy – R and TM disappearing?

  1. Hi Duncan
    You raised an interesting point about the use of R and TM with well known brands in the marketplace.
    It may very well be that signage will look messy if an R or TM sybmol is included. In the photo, the signage is really used to notify customers that certain branded goods are available at a location. Out of curiousity, I checked my D&G sunglasses and on the inside the full brand name is inscribed together with the R symbol.
    I agree this may be a chance that only the well known brands may be able to take, but then it is up to those brand owners to be able to prove that they are in fact well known.
    The aim of the R or TM symbols is to put third parties on notice that the brand is actually owned by a particular company.  This would then make it difficult for a third party to claim honest concurrent use of that brand for the same or similar goods.
    Perhaps is key is that as long as the R or TM symbol is used alongside the brand name on the actual goods for which protection is or is being sought, this may be enough.
    I wonder if it is any different for branded services, as services are not physical objects. Probably not (eg: NAB or KPMG).

  2. Hello,I am IP specialist from Sofia,Bulgaria.About your question I thing that there is not surprise that some companies don’t use TM or R. When we considering TM or R from IP point of view everything is clear but from marketing point there are some obstacles.One
    is refer  to product’s design. I think that most of the companies don’t
    want to put R or TM because this symbols make ugly their brands or they
    are not suitable in their design concept.About risk?Well I
    consider that there is no risk if you don’t put this symbols. When
    somebody want to use a word which is used in trade practice he must to
    expect  that this word is registered mark. Have a nice dayVentsi Sofia,Bulgaria

  3. Thanks Sara and Ventsi – great comments.Sara – nice distinction – perhaps only on the goods themselves.  Though this is obviously a lesser use of the mark (less people buy the goods than would see the advertising sign).Interesting point about services – but perhaps this can still be done on any materials provided as part of the services – brochures / memoranda / etc.Ventsi – I agree with you.  This is always raised when working with the design and marketing teams for a new product.  My point to them is when the new brand is unknown it is even more crucial to mark it as a trade mark.

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