Are there any lawyers in here? Would love it if you jumped in.

In Canada it can take a year or two to register a trademark. The symbol signifies a registered trademark. The letters TM is unregistered and * signifies it is someone elses trademark. To register a trademark costs $200-$250, assuming there is no opposition and everything goes smoothly. I understand that if it doesn't and you want to in essence appeal it it costs multi-hundreds of dollars. In other words, you could easily drop a grand and come away with nothing but grief and wasted time/energy/money.

On the other hand a TM costs nothing, except for perhaps a trademark search of $40 or so. Many large companies use TM, however they are likely doing so while a registered trademark application is being filed.

My question to any lawyer or person in the know, is there an acceptable way to apply a TM and be protected? Is there a good protocol; perhaps doing a search then documenting the search on-line noting the date of implementing an unregistered trademark? Or is protecting a TM futile without ?

Since this is a good place to rant, the cost of registering is chump change for corporations but quite a cost for the little guy. Quite a bureacracy. I know they have rule checkers looking to ensure the trademark application is "appropriate" for the product etc. How the heck does "Just Do It" become relevant to a pair of shoes or a set of golf clubs? I doubt Nike found opposition but suspect the little guy would have to fight and scrape through red tape to get anything registered. Someone in that registry has to justify their job and it's easier to do it against Joe Schmuck than a Corporate Gorilla.