Mikołaj Lech

patent attorney

A lawyer, who specializes in industrial property law, combating unfair competition and copyright. Thanks to work in Patent Agency he has a contact with the current problems of entrepreneurs.
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5 Jan

What does the letter R in the circle mean?

Do you really know what does the letter R in the circle mean? Looking closely at the different brands on the market, it can be seen that some of them are using this particular symbol. However, not everyone knows what it actually means.

Of course this does not stop people from advising others in this area (such our Polish ailment). As a result, the Internet is full of the most abstract translations. Below are two the most frequently occurring:

People are though that R in the circle means “original”. It is said that only original products are marked with this symbol. However, I have not encountered a situation that the impostor, who infringes a product, skip the ® symbol. It is not a hologram, as in the case of CDs which is difficult to copy.

What is interesting, a wrong translation is established by the marks that can be found in the Internet. I think that the most interesting are the marks where the R in the circle symbol appears in the context of the originality of the products. Actually it has nothing to do with the protection of the trademark in the Patent Office.

R in the circle symbol is also incorrectly translated as a designation of copyright. I had a contact with several entrepreneurs who, taking this into account, added ® near their company logo.

Please note that such an innocent mistake can be associated with specific criminal penalties.

Below you will find the correct meaning not only of ® but as well as other symbols associated with intellectual property.

R in the circle

It stands for “registered” meaning that the trade mark is registered in the appropriate Patent Office. The entrepreneur who obtained the Certificate of Registration may or may not place nearby of its trademark the letter R in the circle. It is forbiden to mark with this symbol a trademark which has not been registered. Polish law provides a fine for such an act.

TrademarkIt stands for a “trademark”. Polish law does not associate any rights with this symbol. Every entrepreneur who uses the distinctive name or logo actually uses the trademark. However, not every trademark is protected by the Patent Office. In such a case, some of the entrepreneurs uses this symbol.

C in the circleIt stands for “copyright”. This symbol can sometimes be found on all kinds of goods like: candy bars, cereal and maps. In the broader sense, it is a right of the author in the respect of the creation of the work. It’s about a right to abtain financial benefits. Each trademark of unique graphic design is protected by a copyright law.

Service MarkIt stands for “service mark”. In Poland the concept of trademark include service marks. As for the meaning of this symbol, an analogous situation occurs like in the TM. An entrepreneur who protects his trademark may use the ® symbol and also the TM or SM. The occurrence of the latters does not say anything about the legal protection afforded by registration in the Patent Office.

Geographical indicationIt’s a symbol denoting registration of the geographical indication in the appropriate Patent Office. In this case we can only talk about goods originating from a given area on the condition that their specific features result from their place of origin (eg. Champagne). As in the case ® authorized persons may or may not use this symbol next to a specified designation.

Topographies of semiconductor productsIt’s a symbol of the topographies of semiconductor products. Unfortunately, in Poland, the topographies of semiconductor products are not filed into protection very often.


FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014If you have reached to this place, than you should easily decode the designations placed on the logo of World Cup in Brazil from 2014.

I hope that thanks to this article, I managed not only to dispel a few myths about what R in the circle mean, but also to bring the meaning of other symbols of intellectual property.

Mikołaj Lech

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Charles March 13, 2018 at 21:14

Dear Mr. Lech,… My name is Charles I may need your services in the very near future.. my question to you is State Farm has a program called steer clear… There is an r with a circle around it does this mean no one could use that phrase for anything else… Please let me know


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