The popular misconception is that the symbol ™ can only be used after a trademark has been applied for registration and not otherwise.

The symbol ™ can be used on a mark that you intend to use as your trademark. In other words you are merely expressing to the general public at large your intention of using your mark as a trademark.

The symbol ®, which is nothing but the letter “R’ within a circle, implies that the mark which accompanies it has been registered as a trademark. Any unauthorized use of the registered trademark by anyone other than the owner of the trademark amounts to infringement. Falsely using the registered symbol ® on any unregistered mark is an offense and punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

It is not necessary for a person to have applied for or obtained registration of the mark for using the symbol ™. Whereas it is essential to secure registration of the trademark to use the symbol ®.

Obviously, the symbol ® is much more potent than the symbol ™ in many ways.