Companies and brand names are usually accompanied with the ® or ™ symbols. The ™ symbol stands for “trademark”. This is a general symbol used to signify any mark, logo, name, device, or any combination of them as a mark used to conduct trade. The purpose of trademark is to facilitate a consumer in identifying the source of a particular good or service. Hence when the ™ mark is used, it signifies that the particular mark is already in use for conducting trade. It is a common law practice, and the law does not mandate the symbol, neither does it recognize them as valid or invalid marks.
The ® mark is used by those companies or entities on a mark that is registered under the trademark law of their respective jurisdictions. This symbol is displayed on a mark to showcase that a particular mark is a registered trademark, and that the same cannot be copied or used by any other entity or company. No entity or company is allowed to use the ® symbol without having due registration within the specifications of their local trademark law.
Trademark symbols are used differently in varied jurisdictions by companies or entities as a matter of business strategy. In majority of the countries in the world, the trademark law recognizes the common law principle of “first use”. The first user of a trademark is usually awarded with the trademark protection. This is influenced by numerous factors such as brand value, customer recognition, etc. Companies that do not wish to register their marks in few countries, but desire to conduct trade within those countries can use the ™ mark to denote that such a mark has been used by an entity to carry out trade.