The difference between ™ and ®

I work in the Intellectual Property Department in one of the law firms in Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately, I will not reveal my firm’s name here due to the fact I wish to remain anonymous (though posting my own photos doesn’t help!). Frank and I are worried that one day we’ll get into trouble for things we posted here 😀

Anyway, a basic Intellectual Property FAQ.

Have you ever wondered why some trademarks have the sign ™ and some on ®?
Wikipedia explains the difference..
The use of the ™ symbol next to a trademark, usually in the top right-hand corner, means that the trademark owner claims certain exclusive rights in relation to that trademark. Although this symbol only denotes that the owner holds unregistered trade mark rights, such rights can be enforced by way of an action for passing off.
The ® symbol is used to denote that a trademark has been registered with the government trade marks office or registry of a particular country or jurisdiction. Upon registration a trademark can be enforced by way of an action for infringement.

For example..

HSBC is a registered trade mark hence they can sue anyone who infringes (i.e. uses a mark which is identical or resembling as it is likely to deceive or cause confusion in the course of trade) their trade mark.
HSBC definitely can sue this bugger for infringement/passing off..
Bank not amused by abbreviation use

KUALA LUMPUR: The next time you drive around Bangsar and see a bright yellow sign with the letters “HSBC”, do not mistake it for the financial institution with the tag line “The world’s local bank”.

The sign is actually for a restaurant, and the “HSBC” abbreviation stands for Hot & Spicy Bangsar Cuisine.
When met by The Star, owner N. Mangaladavi said that the bank was not amused, initially.

“I thought spicy food and banks didn’t have anything in common, but the bank’s management visited this restaurant soon after it opened in 2001 and sent me legal letters asking me to change the name and logo,” she said.


S. Nadarajah, one of the owners of the restaurant, welcoming customers to the eatery in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, yesterday.

But the 65-year-old businesswoman maintained that she had done nothing wrong and said the bank had not bothered her at all after the initial visit.

“However, I still wanted to use the name because I felt that food and banks had nothing in common.
“So after the visit, my son went to the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (Myipo) office and applied for our restaurant to be registered as the owners of the “HSBC” name under Class 43 (services for food and drink),” she said.

She added that this was done in 2002.

On April 28, she received a letter from Myipo stating that her application had beenrejected by them.
Checking with Myipo, it was learnt that the restaurant’s application was rejected because the name was “likely to deceive or confuse the public”.

A Myipo spokesman said it was wrong for the restaurant to want to use that name, and that HSBC bank had the right to take the owners to court.

The restaurant, which serves Chinese food, has since prospered and says that some HSBC bank staff also frequent it often.

When contacted, HSBC bank declined to comment.

8 thoughts on “The difference between ™ and ®”

  1. I’m still studying IP law, so I’m wondering. . .The restaurant should not be applying for a trademark because it is not producing a product but is an eatery, right?
    It’s not just the name, the symbol beside the name is a bit dodgy as well. . . But one argument they can put forth is that they stated underneath the abbreviation that it stood for hot and spicy bangsar cuisine.
    Would the public be confused by the name? Hmm!! “Waa, HSBC expanded business wor! Have restaurant ah!” XD

  2. yvonne: keke last night was somthing else. i read about this quite some time ago.
    yishy: aiyo read about it!! learn about ur intellectual rights before smeone steals it!
    wlfx: why not bald and sexy chindians? keke
    Applegal: hehe, the rstaurant can apply for a trade mark even if its an eatery. we have service marks in malaysia.

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