If you think following the coded instructions to wash your clothes is complicated (all those symbols), welcome to the wonderful world of Intellectual Property rights symbols.
IP rights symbols are helpful, but often overlooked tools in an IP rights holder’s arsenal. They are useful to educate the public to the fact that a right exists, and to discourage ‘would be’ infringers from copying. The symbols which are often found accompanying products, logos, designs, literary and other creative works, are a clear indication that someone is claiming ownership over IP rights.
Here at Albright IP, we often receive emails from our clients seeking advice on how to correctly use these valuable symbols. In response, we have written this helpful guide to summarise and simplify this tricky and often misunderstood tool.
Firstly, a general comment; the proper manner to display these symbols is immediately adjacent to the Mark, and commonly in the superscript form. This is not a legal requirement, but it is common practice.
Trade Mark ™
Use of the ™ symbol indicates an assertion that a word, logo or slogan is a Trade Mark. IP Rights holders use the ™ symbol to indicate that they regard their ‘badge’ as a ‘Trade Mark’ i.e. that they wish others to be on notice of their ownership. The ™ symbol itself does not indicate that a Trade Mark is Registered, or that an Application has been filed to register it; therefore, it can be used in respect of newly created Trade Marks without any delay.
Service Mark ℠
In the USA, there is a distinction drawn between Trade Marks and Service Marks. Trade Marks relate to products, and Service Marks relate to services. The term Service Mark is not routinely used in the UK or the EU, but the symbol ℠ may sometimes appear on websites or marketing material that is in circulation here.
Registered Trade Mark ®
The ® symbol is used to provide notice that the proceeding word, logo or other sign, is a Trade Mark that has been registered at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). The ® symbol is therefore a clear statement of ownership, and an assertion that a Registered right is held.
In many countries, it is against the law to use the ® symbol in respect of a Mark which is not officially Registered.
The © symbol is used as part of a Copyright notice for literary, artistic, and musical works other than sound recordings (phonographic works). The © symbol is widely recognised internationally, but it’s use is not a legal requirement to protect your work. In the UK, a Copyright work is automatically protected at the point when the work is created. However, the © symbol is still useful for reminding the public that your work is subject to Copyright law, and that you are aware of your rights.
A Copyright notice typically consists of: the © symbol; the year of first publication; and the name of the owner. For example:
© 2018 Albright IP Limited.
The (ↄ) symbol is a relatively new IP symbol, and currently has no legal meaning. Essentially, Copyleft is the practice where a work may be used, modified and distributed by third parties, providing that all derivative works are bound by the same conditions. Therefore, Copyleft is an open licensing agreement, of sorts.
Phonogram Copyright ℗
The ℗ symbol, is used in a Copyright notice for sound recordings. This symbol is therefore used to indicate the ownership of a sound recording. A sound recording embodies a separate copyright to the underlying musical work, and will often have a different owner i.e. the producer.
A Phonogram Copyright notice consists of: the ℗ symbol; the year of first publications; and the name of the owner. For example:
℗ 2018 Albright IP Limited.
The Phonogram Copyright symbol is often mistaken as a symbol indicating a Patent, this is a common misconception.
There is no established typographical symbol which indicates that a product is subject to a Patent.
Notwithstanding the absence of an official symbol it is still of paramount importance to mark your Patented products as ‘Patented’. If you don’t mark your products or their packaging, someone can copy them and claim they were unaware of the Patent; this is a legitimate defence under UK Patent law, known as ‘innocent infringement’.
Interestingly, the law specifies that it is not enough to merely mark a product ‘Patented’: if you don’t include the patent number, an infringer may still claim they didn’t know the product was patented.
Although the above comments show the importance and advantages of marking your product as ‘Patented’, there is no legal requirement to mark your product in this way. However, it is against the law to mark a product as ‘Patented’ when it isn’t. This means that when your Patents expire, you are required to remove all ‘Patented’ marking from your products and packaging. The law does allow for a reasonable transition period in this situation, to run down old stock.
As a full service Intellectual Property firm, Albright IP Limited are experienced, knowledgeable, and well placed to advise our client’s on how to use all the tools to make the most of their IP rights.