Trade mark tips – April 2014

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Most jurisdictions draw a distinction between the use of the ® symbol to denote a registered trade mark and TM to denote the name is being used as trade mark regardless of its registered status. Use of ® is generally prohibited unless a trade mark is registered and breach of this prohibition usually results in penalties. China has a particularly strict regime and whether you sell products directly in China, or just manufacture goods for export, the correct trade mark symbol should be used.

Incorrectly labelling your trade mark with ® when the mark is not registered in China can result in heavy fines. These can either be a maximum of 20 per cent of turnover or 200 per cent of profit. False labelling is regularly enforced in China; for instance, in 2012 there were 4,111 cases of penalties being imposed for the misuse of ®. Monitoring the correct use of ® can prevent these severe consequences and we recommend regular reviews of product packaging and literature to ensure ® is only used in relation to trade marks which are registered in the territory where the packaging and literature is being used.