Trademark is an intellectual asset and helps customers visually associate products and services with a particular brand or company. Trademark registration offers a business or proprietor the exclusive right to use and sell their registered goods and services. They can use a distinctive sign or label to categorise their products as their intellectual property. Another company or establishment using an identical mark for identical goods and services will be deemed as an infringement of intellectual rights.
Seven different trademarks are issued in India to manufacturers and service providers of specific goods and services. Read on to understand the concept of a trademark, its benefits and how to apply for trademark registration online.
Differentiation of products and services in a competitive market environment is crucial. To facilitate such differentiation, a business owner can use logos, marks, names and symbols to distinguish them from its competitors. It assigns and adds value to the company and safeguards its brand name.
Any product or service that requires differentiating itself from similar products to retain customers can adopt a trademark. Any packaging, pattern or certification, etc., can also be treated as a trademark.
The inclusions under trademark include:
Trademark registrations aim to protect the status and individuality of brands. Not only does it prevent competitors from copying them, but it also makes them liable for prosecution. The Indian government stresses trademark licenses and requests companies to use them regularly.
Trademark registration provides a monopolistic association between products and their brands. This enhances brand recognition and reduces the spread of counterfeit items in the market. From an economic perspective, trademark registration prevents market failure.
The competitive product or service market requires product differentiation to let individual brands sustain. Securing one’s intellectual rights is thus crucial, and through trademarks, the government ensures that no two companies share the same branding/packaging.
Some common benefits of choosing trademark registration for brands are:
Trademark registration involves following certain steps:
Step 1: The first step to registering a trademark is researching. The applicant should look for potentially similar trademarks. It also helps save resources on trademark litigations.
Step 2: When applicants are satisfied with their trademark research, they can opt for registration. They should begin with filing a trademark application at the trademark registry department, also known as the Indian Patents Office. They can also perform this step online. An official receipt is immediately issued after the successful registration.
Step 3: An examiner overlooks the trademark application for discrepancies. After an examination spanning over 12-18 months, an application can be accepted completely, partially or rejected.
A trademark journal documents details of unconditional registrations. Unconditional registrations get a time period of 1 month to make necessary changes for acceptance. Rejected applications can raise hearings whereby the registrar decides whether they should continue with the application.
Step 4: Anyone objecting to a trademark registration can raise queries. Publication of the trademark registration allows a public display of the same, which proceeds forward if no oppositions arise. Any objections are subject to further hearings, and the registrar provides the final verdict.
Step 5: Applicants receive a registration certificate on successful application and publication approved by the registrar.
Step 6: All trademark registrations are valid for 10 years, after which they require further renewals.
Depending on the type of application and proprietorship, applicants need to send certain documents to validate their application. Following are the documents required for trademark registration for different types of organisations.
Individual and Sole Proprietorship: The trademark registration department allows individuals (Indian or foreign) to register their trademarks without additional legal requirements. The documents required for such trademarks include:
Partnership or Limited Liability Company: Small enterprises or startup businesses can apply for trademark applications by paying a registration fee. They need to submit the following documents for filing a registration:
Normally, the trademark registration department charges Rs. 9000 per application per class. However, companies with MSME registrations can obtain such trademarks at Rs. 4500.
Any trademark application can face opposition after the registrar has published the trademark application in the journal. Section 21 of the Trademark Act allows any individual to counter trademark applications. An opposition is succeeded by a conclusive statement stating the future of the application.
There are multiple grounds for raising trademark application opposition.
The process of raising opposition to a trademark application involves the following steps:
The initial stages of trademark application involve a trademark objection phase whereby an examiner objects to an application. Objections do not necessarily imply denials, but it seeks to understand the validation of the application.
Trademark objections can arise out of two conditions:
Trademark registrations are intangible assets that safeguard and promote the essential essence of a brand. Individuals can apply to 45 different trademark classes depending on the nature of their organisations and product types. Trademark registration is a simple process but one that is crucial for a brand’s recognition.
Ans: Owing to their usability and function, trademarks should contain words or phrases that are easier to pronounce and remember. They may include invented words, coined words or unique geometrical designs. Experts recommend avoiding geographical locations or common personal names for trademarks.
Ans: Trademark laws come from national statutes (Trade Marks Act, 1999), national bilateral conventions, court decisions, decisions on intellectual property, etc.
Ans: An applicant can remove his/her trademark applications to the registrar if they feel unused and do not adhere to the existing laws. Registrars can also issue a suo moto notice for such removals.
Ans: No, trademark applications are not mandatory. Trademark registrations are primary evidence of proprietorship. Infringement of unregistered trademarks, however, is not liable for prosecutions.
Ans: Trademark registration is a complex process that involves multiple stages. The completion of the process may take somewhere between 12 to 18 months after the successful submission of the documents.
Disclaimer: Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme-related documents carefully.
This article has been prepared on the basis of internal data, publicly available information and other sources believed to be reliable. The information contained in this article is for general purposes only and not a complete disclosure of every material fact. It should not be construed as investment advice to any party. The article does not warrant the completeness or accuracy of the information, and disclaims all liabilities, losses and damages arising out of the use of this information. Readers shall be fully liable/responsible for any decision taken on the basis of this article.
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