TM/MC: A New IP Notice Symbol?



My daughter’s strong interest in fashion, arts, crafts, and sewing has me wandering the aisles of places like Joann Fabrics and Michaels with increasing frequency.

Since my primary contribution to these adventures is in the to-and-from, and, I suppose, at the check-out counter, I find myself with eyes wide open, being exposed to a variety of brands very new to me. Learning about new brands, new markets, and observing how the brand owners in these markets communicate with their customers is fascinating to me. And, this is learning I have come to expect. The learning I haven’t expected, however, relates to the discovery of a new intellectual property notice symbol, or, at least one that I just encountered for the first time.

This past weekend on one of these retail adventures, I noticed packaging and point of sale displays using what appeared to be an intellectual property notice I hadn’t seen before: TM/MC.

To be sure, and as you know, I’m all too familiar with the TM notice symbol, and, in fact, I wrote about it not too long ago: Going Nuts Over the Proper Use of Trademark & Copyright Notice Symbols? It was the MC portion of the notice symbol that had me scratching my head. McDonalds? Or, perhaps an oddly truncated acronym for Martha (Stewart) Crafts?

Here are a couple of the examples showing the TM/MC notices that I recently encountered (okay, I’d heard of Martha Stewart before this visit):

So, what I’ve been able to discern is that the TM/MC notice symbol appears designed to communicate claimed common law unregistered trademark rights to both English and French speaking consumers in a single treatment.

According to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office:

“You might notice that some trade-marks are followed by the symbols ® or ™. Canada’s Trade-marks Act dœs not contain any  marking requirements. However, you may have come across the following symbols  used by trade-mark owners, namely, ® (registered), TM (trade-mark), MD (marque  déposée) or MC (marque de commerce). The ® or MD are generally used to identify  a registered mark. The symbols TM or MC  are generally used to identify an unregistered mark.”

And, there you have it, mystery solved.

Have you encountered the TM/MC notice symbol before? If so, where, and in what context?

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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