If you’ve worked hard to obtain one or more intellectual property (IP) rights, it’s in your best interest to make these rights known to others.
One way to do this is “marking”. For example, by identifying something as a registered trade mark, or identifying a patent number on a patented product. Marking is useful in that it lets others know that:
While you don’t have to make use of marking, it may help to deter copiers. For patents in particular, there can be further benefits as we will discuss.
We’ll now consider how to clearly identify the existence of different IP rights.
If you have a granted patent, any products covered by the patent may be marked. To do this, use the word “patent” or “patented” followed by either:
If a website link is used, it is important that the web page clearly associates the patent number with that product. The web page must also be accessible to the public free of charge. Using a website link is particularly useful where you have a product with multiple patents associated with it.
In some instances, for example when selling software, it may not be possible to directly mark the “product”. In such cases, any packaging, leaflets, emails, or web pages associated with the “product” may contain the marking.
Marking your patented product provides evidence that an infringer of your patent should have known of the existence of your patent. As a result you are more likely to receive financial compensation from an infringer, should you end up in court.
That being said, once your granted patent expires or is revoked, it is essential that you stop marking your products. Not doing so may lead to a summary conviction and fine. If an internet link is used to mark your product, updating the web page to remove the patent number would be an easy way to remove the marking.
While it is possible to mark your products when you have a patent application pending (i.e. filed, but not yet granted), this only has the potential benefit of informing people that you have filed a patent application to protect an aspect of the product.
This could arguably act to inform a potential infringer of the existence of your pending patent application. If you would like to do this, you can use the wording “patent application no.” followed by the application number. Care should be taken however, as any changes in the status of the patent application (for example, refusal), would require a change in or removal of the marking.
If you have a registered trade mark, you may use the ® symbol next to your trade mark. Alternatively, you may use the symbol “RTM” (Registered Trade Mark).
However, if you do not have a registered trade mark, the use of ® or RTM is illegal.
If your brand name or logo is not a registered trade mark, you can still use the symbol “™”. This simply lets others know that the name or logo is being used as a trade mark, i.e. it is an indicator of the origin of the product or service associated with the name.
You may use the © symbol in connection with your copyrighted material. However, as the law is slightly different in different countries, some more information is recommended to accompany the ©. For example, one of the following notices:
“Copyright © Year Name” or “Copyright © Year Company”
For example, “Copyright © 1996 Steve Jobs” or “Copyright © 1996 Apple Inc.”.
It is recommend placing this notice on any material protected by copyright . For web pages for example, such a notice should be present at the bottom of every web page.
If you have a registered design, you can use the words “registered design no.” followed by the registration number. Such a marking can be placed on the actual product itself, as well as on any accompanying packaging or literature.
Answer last updated: 17 Jan 2018Tags: