Trademarks containing specific names or created on the names of cities, states, and countries cannot be registered.
Trademark is the legalized identity of your brand, company, product, or service. The first thing that marks the beginning of a company is naming it. After you name the company or your brand, follow the process of registration of trademark. Registering your trademark will help others identify your brand.
To understand better what trademark and trademark registration is, here is an example.
Amazon is the trademark name of the ecommerce brand. Registering the name Amazon means no other brand can use the name Amazon for their brand/service/company/product. The name is unique to Amazon only.
Now, if you are forming a company or creating a brand, it is crucial to follow the process of registration of trademark in India. Without registering the brand name, you run the risk of losing it to some other person.
Since trademarks are classified as intellectual property, they are protected from infringement.
Trademark is not just the name. It can be anything and everything like logos, designs, graphics, signs, and even an expression or voice that represent the brand.
Trademark is a unique symbol or sign that represent a brand. It can be a label, or picture, or numeral, or combination of all of these that help in identification of goods or services. The process of registration of trademark in India is important because, it enables you and a third party to distinguish your products and services through your trademark.
Trademarks differentiate your products and services from those belonging to your competitor. With everything being said, keep in mind that geographical names, common names, common trade words and common abbreviation cannot be registered as a trademark.
Registration of Trademarks in India has several advantages and benefits to the owner:
After trademark registration, Trademarks will be classified as intellectual property and are therefore protected from infringement. Moreover, once the process of registration of trademark is complete, you can use trademarks in relation to the “Class” of goods or service it represents. In the case of unauthorized use of your registered trademark by any other brand or company, you can seek relief for infringement in appropriate courts in the country.
Once you complete the process of registration of trademark in India, you can use the ‘R’ (®) symbol on your brand logo or name (whichever is registered). It will tell others that your brand name is registered. You may also have noticed the use of TM logo, which one obtains after the trademark application is filled, but has not yet been approved.
Registration of Trademarks in India would mean that the brand name, logo, graphics, slogan, whatever you have trademarked, will appear in the trademark search done by others. It would essentially mean that others cannot use the name or the logo for their brand that you have registered for yours.
Completing the process of registration of trademark in India will ensure safety against infringement on intellectual property like brand name, slogan, logo, images, graphics, and other creatives. If you find someone using your trademarked name, you can legally sue them and recover the three times the damage caused by the violation. By trademarking in India, the trademark owner receives the presumption of being the valid owner of the mark. Further, it increases the likelihood of the successful filing of a dispute resolution policy for an infringing Internet domain name.
When you create a company, you create a cash flow. You contribute to the economy and also create an asset for yourself. Similarly, the brand name is your asset and by following the process of registration of trademark, you solidify the intellectual asset.
With the creation of online and offline asset, your company name creates a brand. The process of registration of trademark helps your brand create business valuation and goodwill.
The trademark recognition by following the process of registration of trademark helps businesses create a product differentiation. Your customers and competitors, or any other third party for that matter, can differentiate your brand and its products from other products in the market.
The owner of the business or the brand can apply for a trademark. In the Trademark Registration form, the person whose name is mentioned as the applicant will be declared as the owner of the trademark. Any individual, or a company can submit a trademark application for the registration of trademarks in India.
There are certain types of trademarks that you can register in India. Here is a list of the types of trademark registration in India.
Product mark is a mark that is used on a product. Such trademarks are used to recognize the origin of the product and helps in maintaining the reputation of a business. For your information, trademark applications filed under trademark class 1-34 could be termed as a product mark.
Similar to the product mark, service mark is used to represent a service rather than a product. The purpose of the service mark is to distinguish its proprietors from the owners of other services. Trademark applications filed under trademark class 35-45 could be termed as a service mark.
Collective mark is often used by a group of individuals to show that they are collectively protecting a goods or service. Collective mark is used to inform the public about certain distinguished features of a product or service used to represent a collective. The mark holder can be an association, a public institution, or a Section 8 Company.
Further, in a collective mark, the owner of the mark sets the standards of the products. Others associated with the collective are held responsible to adhere to the standards while using the mark in the course of business. The Chartered Accountant designation is a commonly known collective mark in India.
Certification mark brings out the standard of the product and guarantee the product to the customers. Further, certification mark denotes a product’s origin, material, quality or other specific details which are issued by the proprietor. Certification marks are usually seen on packed foods, toys and electronics.
When you follow the process of registration of trademark, you can trademark the shape and size of your product. For example, you are producing a biscuit and have decided to give it a certain shape. Registering the shape of the product reserves you right to defend infringement by your competitors selling the same product in the same shape.
A prime example of shape mark is the shape of Coca-Cola bottles. Notice how no other soft drink manufacturer imitates the design of a Coke bottle.
Similar to shape mark, a pattern trademark also differentiates your product from your competitors.
Remember the famous ting ting tiding tune that Britannia used at the end of its ads? That jingle was associated with the brand, creating its identity. That’s what we can call a sound trademark. Utterly, butterly, delicious... is the sound trademark that we identify with Amul.
Now that you have a basic idea of trademark is, let’s talk about how to register a trademark in India. The process of registration of trademark involves the following steps.
Choose a unique name or mark that will represent your company. The other important point is identifying which class you belong to. Currently, there are 45 classes of goods and services under which the trademark can be registered. As we have mentioned before, classes 1-34 are for goods and classes 35-45 are for service.
Once you choose your mark, conduct a search to check whether your chosen mark is similar to an already registered mark. Go to the online website of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks. There you can find an option to do a public search. Once you click on this option you need to choose your class and search the online database.
You can also get legal services, although you will have to pay for it, it is the safer option. Overall legal services will cost lesser in case your trademark is objected against. Not only will they do the search, they will also help you with the whole process.
To start the process of registration of trademark, you can file one application for multiple classes or series trademark, or collective trademark. For this, you have to fill in form TM-A. This form allows you to register the trademark beyond one class.
Filing of this form has two separate cost brackets-
You can either go for trademark e registration or submit the form offline at regional offices situated in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Chennai.
Once the application is submitted and dispatched, the Registrar of Trademark will check out whether you have followed all the terms and whether your brand name complies with the existing law. Moreover, there should not be any similarity or identical with any existing or pending brands for the registration. This is the reason why we suggest you do a little brainstorming to find a unique name.
As a part of the process of registration of trademark, every application is reviewed and examined. Once that is done, the Registrar of Trademark will publish your brand name in the Indian trademark journal. This is certainly the most important part of the trademark registration and there should not be any opposition within 3 months or 90 days (120 days in some cases), from the date of publication. When there is no opposition, the Registrar of Trademark will proceed towards issuance of Trademark Registration Certificate.
In case you face an opposition, you need to present a counter statement within 2 months. Failing to produce the counter statement within the stipulated time will have your trademark considered rejected/withdrawn/abandoned.
After the Registrar accepts your trademark, the office of the Registrar shall issue the Registration Certificate with the Trademark Registry seal. And that’s it. You shall have your brand name registered, and can use symbol (®) beside your brand name.
Foreign nationals can register trademark in India through Madrid Protocol. Under the Madrid Protocol, a trade mark can be registered in multiple countries by filing an application for international trademark registration through the trademark office of the applicant.
The process of applying for trademark registration in India under the Madrid Protocol by foreigners are as follows:
Trademark protection in India should not be granted for such international trademarks.
Trademark protection in India should be granted with conditions or limitations.
Once you receive the confirmation of the filing of the application, you will get an allotment number. You can check the progress of the application online with this allotment number. This will take time, if there is no problem with the filing then you will get to know whether your application is approved or rejected in 18-24 months. If there is a problem then this may take longer.
Files are prioritized according to the filing date, therefore the longer it takes the more priority your application gets. The other perk about filing the application is that even if it hasn’t been approved you can use the TM symbol next to your mark, once you have received your allotment number.
Once you have submitted your trademark application following the process of registration of trademark, you can check the status of your registration. Although it takes at least 18 months to get approval, you can check the status of your trademark e registration using the allotment number.
Here is a list of different types of trademark status.
The trademark is initially registered for a period of 10 years, which is calculated from the date of filing of the application and in case of convention application, from the date of priority. The registration is required to be renewed within 6 months before the date of expiry of the registration, i.e., 10 years from the date of the application or subsequent renewals.
The failure in renewing the trademark within the stipulated period of time and a grace period of maximum 1 year granted for restoration of the trademark, automatically leads to removal of the trademark from the Register of Trademarks.
India Parliament has passed the Trade Marks (Amendment) Bill, 2009 for enacting special provisions relating to protection of trademarks through international registration under the Madrid Protocol. As per the Amendment Bill, from the date of the international registration of a trademark where India has been designated or the date of the recording in the register of the International Bureau about the extension of the protection resulting from an international registration of a trademark to India, the protection of the trademark in India shall be the same as if the trademark had been registered in India. The Amendment Bill is yet to be notified.
Once you go through the process of registration of trademark and get it registered, you are protected by law from infringements on your intellectual property. It will be illegal for all third parties to copy and use your registered trade mark, be it the brand name, logo, products shape and design.
For all business owners, it is crucial to register their trade mark and protect their intellectual property from unlawful rip-offs, and infringements. For your notice, we have heavily borrowed data from specialized articles to curate this article. Our intent is to create a one-stop solution for your basic trademark related queries. With all that said, we recommend you seek professional help for smooth process of registration of trademark.