Perhaps you’ve noticed a little symbol at the bottom right hand corner of the Starbucks logo on your ornaments. Look closely as it’s not always the same. Sometimes it’s TM/MC, sometimes TM, and sometimes it is ®. There is a simple answer to this, but it may cause you some collecting headaches if you’re a collector of every variation of an ornament.
First off, let’s define the symbols. TM means Trade Mark, MC is Marque de Commerce, and ® is registered. When a logo is designed and a company wants to own the rights, it files with the various patent offices of countries to secure the sole ownership. Once the patent request is accepted the registered mark ® can be used, but until then the TM or MC are used. MC is for Canada and TM for the USA and other countries. I am by no means an expert on this, but a bit of a google brought me up to speed enough for this posting.
In 2011 Starbucks changed its logo and we began seeing the TM/MC on the ornaments. What most of us didn’t realize was that Japan was getting the exact same ornament but the logo mark was just TM. In all other respects the design was the same. As of 2015 the patent must have been accepted in the US and Canada and now the new logo uses the registered mark ®. The 2015 version from Asia still has the TM.
So for you collectors who collect variations of the same design, check to see if you have both 2011 and 2012 USA and Japan versions. In 2011 Starbucks sold the 4-pack of ornaments with three white cups having the brown logo, the old siren and the new siren and then the red cup with the new siren. In 2012 there was only a red cup produced. Again, the exact same design in all other respects. By 2013 we see truly distinct designs for both North America and Japan, so the variation of the TM is not as defining.