Trademark registration involves several stages from application to publication before it is finally registered (see our earlier post on stages involved). It takes upwards of 12 to 18 months for a trademark to attain registration in India, provided that there is no objection or opposition. Symbols such as TM and ® are used by trademark owner to caution general public that the mark is a registered trademark. There is no legal impediment to use TM symbol while a trademark application is pending, but to use a ® symbol one must have a valid registration.
There is common misconception among significant number of population that it is okay to use ® symbol without a valid registration. Trademark applicants tend to use registered trademark ® symbol immediately after filing their application or after once mark is published in the official gazette.
These practices of using the ® symbol or publishing a mark as registered without having a valid registration is prohibited by law and is a punishable offence under Section 107 of the Trade Marks Act 1999, with imprisonment upto three years or with fine, or both.
Therefore, it is unlawful to claim a mark as registered without securing a valid registration. It is equally important for owners of registered trademarks to use ® registered trademark symbol so that the public is adequately cautioned.