A trademark can be defined as the unique identity that makes your product or service stand out from the rest. The unique identity or expression can be a logo, photograph, slogan, word, sound, smell, color combination or graphics. Most of the businesses usually look for registration of logo or name only. If you have come up with a unique idea or logo, then the only way to protect it as your own unique identity is to register it as a trademark. A registered trademark is your business’s intellectual property or intangible asset. It acts as a protective cover of the company’s investment made in the logo or brand.
In India, trademarks are registered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Government Of India. You can register the trademark under the act named, The Trademark Act, 1999. The registration provides the right to sue against others who try to copy your trademark. Also, no one else can use a similar trademark to the one registered by another person. Once you register a trademark, you can use an R symbol along with it, and it will be valid till 10 years from the date of registration. You can easily get a ™ within 3 days. But, to get an ®, it takes up to 2 years. In case the trademark registration is nearing expiry date, you can always get it re-registered for another ten years.
What can you Trademark?
According to the trademark rules of India, items like sound, logo, words, phrases, colors, images, symbols, initials or a combination of all these can be trademarked. All of these should be made use to make your business stand out from the rest.
Who can all apply for Trademark?
A trademark application can be done by private firms, individuals, companies, LLP’s, or NGO’s. In the case of NGOs, LLP’s or companies, the trademark has to be applied for registration in the name of the concerned business.
Why is Trademark Registration important in India?
A Great Business Opportunity
A product or service being sold under a registered trademark helps in building up trust, reliability, quality, and goodwill in the minds of customers. It offers you a unique identity when compared to other sellers especially when you sell it on online platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, etc.
A Legal Protection
In case you doubt that your trademark is being copied by anyone else, you can take up the issue legally and sue them if you have registered your logo, brand name or slogan.
Get Your Unique Identity
Customers will identify a particular product or service only with the brand. Registering a trademark ensures that competitors will not use it and hence it remains as a company’s unique asset.
The trademark can be a valuable asset in case your brand creates a name and succeeds. It can be commercially contracted, sold and franchised.
Global Filing Of Trademark
A trademark which is registered and filed in India can also be filed in other countries outside India. Likewise, foreigners can also get a trademark registered in India.
What is Class Selection in trademark registration
While applying for registration, we need to apply it under the right classification of classes. We need to choose the right class under which we need to register. The trademark offers us the right to sell under a particular brand name within a certain sector in the economy. In total, there are about 45 sectors and each sector is named as a class. Goods and services are classified into 45 different classes by the Trademark Registry. Every logo or brand name has to be registered under the appropriate class. For example, the Class 28 includes products and services related to games, sports and toys. Hence, if you are planning to launch a new toy brand, you will have to apply under the Class 28.
Documents needed for Trademark Registration
An authorization letter that is duly signed by us allows to file for trademark registration. We need to file the application online and also pay for it. Soon, we receive the confirmation of the application, and we will get the right to use the ™ symbol.
While filing for the trademark registration, the documents you need to provide are as follows:
Using Logo With Tagline
If a trademark application is made for a tagline with only words there is no need of a logo. In cases where a logo is used, then it should be submitted in black and white format. The number of words in the logo should exactly be the same as mentioned in the application for a trademark.
Important things know about the online Trademark Registration Process
Nowadays, with the advent of technological advancements, a trademark registration can be easily made online. You can get the help of a registered Trademark attorney to file online without taking an effort to visit the registry office.
The Vienna Codification Process
In the trademark process, Vienna codification is a crucial step. It is an international classification which is given once you fill the application form. At this point, your application for registration will be denoted as – “Sent for Vienna codification.”
The Examination Of Trademark
After the trademark application is given for Vienna classification, the trademark will be examined by the Trademark officer in accordance with certain guidelines and procedures. The officer might accept or reject the application as per his/her discretion.
Hearing Before Trademark Register/officer
If the trademark application is rejected, the applicant can go for a for a hearing. If the officer can be convinced with the provided documents then the application will be passed. If the officer is not convinced, once again the application gets rejected. If he is not fully convinced about the reason for rejection, then the Intellectual Property Appellate Board can be contacted.
When we submitted our Logo “DMZ International”, it was initially rejected, as there was a trademark already registered in India by the name “DMZ” by an educational firm from Canada. Then our lawyer went for hearing and convinced the department that our logo has “International” also as part of it and we are not doing any educational related business like the existing trademark holder. So the officer was convinced and approved our logo for other classes which we applied.
Trademark symbols and their usages
Once a trademark is registered, then the applicant can start using the ® symbol to signify that the trademark is registered and protected from infringement under the Trademark laws.
The ™ symbol is for unregistered trademarks for which the application has been filed. The TM symbol is thus used to indicate that a trademark application exists with respect to the trademark.
The ‘SM’ or Service Mark symbol is used for the service industry, specifically for service mark applications The SM symbol is used for applications that are filed under class 35-45.
What type of applications can be rejected?
If your trademark is similar to an existing application, would hurt religious sentiments, contains geographical names or common words. It would also be rejected if it is likely to cause confusion. So you can’t register the word ‘car’ for a car brand, but may do so for a brand of electronics.
What if my trademark is taken, but under a different class?
If your brand name has already been registered, but under a different class, you’re still in luck. Unless the brand is too well known (McDonald’s or Fiat, let’s say), your application is likely to be approved. If, on the other hand, a trademark has been registered by another brand after you began using it, you should take the matter seriously. Find out the origin of the goods and send the office a cease-and-desist letter. Although it does not apply exclusively to intellectual property, such a letter is usually sent in cases of infringement. If the party does not cease and desist from selling the goods with your trademark within the time mentioned in the letter, you may take them to court.
What if someone has a similar word trademarked?
You can’t get the word, but all is not lost. You could instead design a unique logo for your business and include the name in it. Take BMW as an example. The BMW is within the logo. A prefix would also be permissible. This is known as a logo composite mark. So there is a way out, but it is best to have a unique name.
Some interesting Trademark related News:
Sony PlayStation 5 Launch May Delay
08th October: The launch of Sony’s PlayStation 5 can be delayed in India because PS5 trademark belongs to Hitesh Aswani from New Delhi, who had filed trademark application in October 2019. This means that either Sony will have to buy the trademark back or that guy can keep the trademark and ask for royalties. This is however, not very simple though. He is an individual and Sony is a large company who has been using the PS initials since a long time. Wouldn’t take much for Sony lawyers to argue his intent was to make money off of Sony, and not creating his own “PS5 console”. He’s gonna need a good defense. Taiwanese multinational ASUS, also had a similar issue with the launch of their phone series, Zenfone last year.
Tata Motors Trademarks The Name ‘Timero’ for its Upcoming SUV In India
18 September 2020: As per the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s database, the Tata Motors has trademarked the name ‘Timero’. So, it is likely that ‘Tata Timero’ could be the official name of the company’s upcoming micro SUV, due for launch towards the end of 2020. The company filed for the trademark registration last year.
Baba Ramdev’s Anti Covid Drug ‘Coronil’ Refrained from Use: Madras High Court
18th July: Arudra Engineering Private Limited, a Chennai based firm has claimed the ownership of ‘Coronil’. The company claimed it had registered ‘Coronil 92B’ and ‘Coronil-213 SPL’ in 1993.
91816 trademarks filed in 4 months
23rd April: From 1st January to April 22, a total of 91816 trademarks have been filed in India. The lockdown has not much impacted the workings of the Indian Trademark Registry.
Apple launches website and app for COVID-19
23rd April: To keep us updated with helping us take protective measures against COVID-19, the renowned company Apple launches a website and an app. In this regard, it has filed a trademark under the international trademark class 9.
Why am I registering the brand name even though am selling only Online?
To be eligible for an Amazon Brand Registry application, Our brand must have an active registered trademark in each country where we wish to enroll. The trademark for our brand must be in the form of a text-based mark or an image-based mark with words, letters, or numbers. Amazon’s Brand Registry is a program which identifies brand owners to Amazon. Brand Registry has a dedicated team which brand owners can contact to report intellectual property infringement, policy violations, listing issues and technical issues, and also escalate previously submitted cases.
Yes, we can list products under our own brand without having the Brand Registry, however you won’t be able to protect your listings. When you Create the new product listing, on the form is forcing you to enter your brand name.
What Are The Benefits Of Amazon Registry Program?
1. Protect your product listings from other sellers
2. Increase your product sales
3. Get access to proactive report and search tools
4. Expand your ad options
5. Control your brand’s representation
Amazon only accepts trademarks issued by the following countries:
So, customers will identify a particular product or service only with the brand. Registering a trademark ensures that competitors will not use it and hence it remains as a company’s unique asset. The trademark can be a valuable asset in case your brand creates a name and succeeds.
Below, you can see screenshots of one of my brand “DMZ International” registered and how it looks like once we get the registration approved from Trade Marks Registry in India. It took me nearly an year to get this certification by going through all the process from TM to R.
With the job market still on the rebound, many people chose to start their own businesses, but whether or not you need to register a logo, slogan or company name, depends on several factors, especially when trying to keep start-up costs at a minimum. Generally, if you are the first person to use a trademark, you acquire rights to the mark as soon as you start using it to sell goods or services. Registration is not strictly required, but there are several advantages to registering your trademark. In addition, the cost of registering your trademark pales in comparison to the losses you can incur for failing to do so. So, I would advise to go for it , if you are doing any sort of Business.