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Trademark Registration

What is a Trademark?

A trademark refers to the dynamic symbol, design or phrase assigned to every product and service. It acts as a unique mark of identification, preserving their features and benefits from other products and services of its kind. A trademark is aimed at legally protecting the brand names and reputation of products and services. It grants exclusivity to business ideas, preventing them from being illegally replicated by a third-party through fraudulent practices.

It safeguards the brands rights by empowering brands to take legal actions when their trademark is used without prior permission. Products and services with a trademark denote that its company or brand holds the sole ownership over their products and services as it is their property. A trademark is specifically allotted to products as trademarks for services are usually referred to as service marks.

What can be registered under a trademark?

The trademark registration process has become streamlined and hassle-free in India. It can be completed through a few simple steps, however, the trademark laws lays down stringent guidelines regarding the process and acceptable documents, which has to be strictly followed by business owners who want to trademark their brand names and products.

Here is the list of things that can be registered under a trademark, individually or in combination:

  • A letter
  • A word
  • A number
  • A phrase
  • A graphic content
  • Logo
  • Phrase
  • Slogan
  • A particular smell/fragrance
  • Sound mark
  • A combination of colours

Benefits of Trademark Registration

The following are some of the multiple advantages of getting a trademark registration for your business:

  • Ensuring the uniqueness of products: Apart from enabling owners to overcome fraudulent and unauthorised duplication of their trademarked products, trademark registration also helps trademark owners to create brand identity, differentiating their products from others under the same or similar product category.

  • Legal ownership of brand products and ideas: A trademark registration legally empowers the owner to enjoy exclusivity with regards to his/her rights over the trademark. This trademark will be applicable on all the products belonging to the same class(es). This enables the trademark owner to prevent third-parties from illegally duplicating his/her brand products.

  • Trademark registration symbol adds weightage to the brand: The registered symbol (®) which a company can use after the successful completion of the trademark registration application process, talks about product quality. What’s more, it not only prevents fraudulent, unauthorised and unethical usage of the brand name, its products and ideas by a third-party, it also enables the company to take a legal course against them. In short, it prevents infringement into a personal property by any third-party.

  • Recognition of the company: Product recognition automatically enhances the brand name, which in turn ensures brand visibility.

  • Creating goodwill for the brand: A product with trademark registration inevitably emphasises on their quality, creating trust for the brand and attracting customer loyalty.

  • Contributing to business growth: The brand name is closely equated with the quality of its products. A trademark registration builds brand value as customers interpret the products as safe and reliable, thus, boosting sales and contributing to business growth.

  • Converting a tangible asset into an intangible one: A trademark registration converts a company, which is a tangible asset, into an intangible one that can be sold, franchised or contracted commercially.

  • Applying for global registration of trademark: International business expansion and subsequent trademark registration outside India is possible only when the company has its trademark registered in India.

Trademark Registration Procedure in India

Let’s discuss the process that you need to follow for getting your company’s trademark registration certificate in India:

Deciding on the brand name

You have to select a name that will not face avoidable hassles and run into problems during the trademark registration process. Not only does the name have to be aligned to your brand personality and identifiable to your target customers, it cannot be the same or similar to ones that already exist. It is recommended that you chose a unique name that is off the beaten track, so there is no clash with the current names.

Check whether a Trademark for your chosen brand name also exists

After deciding on some name options that you believe is in sync with your product offerings and also sounds unique, conduct a trademark search for each of them. This will enable you to check whether a trademark for the same name already exists, so that you can think over other name options if necessary. Further, this will also prevent your trademark registration application from getting rejected due to a repetition of a name that already exists or is alike.

Filing an application for trademark registration

Once you have finalised on a unique name that does not currently belong to any other brand, you can file the trademark registration application with the Trademark Registrar. Remember to file the application along with the essential document proofs and registration fee. Here are the details that should be a part of your registration application:

  • Name of the trademark owner along with his/her complete business address
  • Logo or the Trademark
  • Trademark class or classification
  • Date since the trademark is in use
  • Description of goods or services that the company offers and specialises in

Documents needed for Trademark Registration

As discussed earlier, the trademark laws mention the necessary documents required during trademark registration application. The following is the list of documents needed during trademark registration:

Business registration proof: The identity proof(s) of each of the director(s) involved in the business and business address proof, as per the type of business, has to be presented at the time of trademark registration application. For sole proprietorship businesses, the government registered photo ID proof of the sole proprietor, like Aadhaar card or PAN card, has to be submitted. If it is a company, its address proof, like rental agreement, has to be presented during the trademark registration procedure. Other essential documents required during the application process are:

  • Soft copy of the trademark

  • Proof of claim, and

  • Proof of the power of attorney duly-signed by the applicant

Process for issuance of Trademark Registration Certificate

Trademark registration application allotment number: After the trademark registration application has been filed, a unique trademark application allotment number will be generated. Once the business owner has received the allotment number, he/she is legally allowed to use the trademark symbol (™) after the brand name or logo.

Proof of brand name application: The Registrar minutely exams the brand name application to ensure that the name is in accordance with the terms and conditions of trademark registration. The proposed brand name cannot be the same or similar to any other existing brand name, nor can it be the same or identical as any other name that is up for registration.

Indian Trade Mark journal publication: After the brand name makes it through the above process of scrutiny, it gets published in the Indian Trade Mark Journal. It is then assigned a time frame of 90 days (120 days, in certain specific cases) for opposition. In case there is no complaint or objection against the name within this time period, the name is considered to be accepted.

Trademark registration certificate: After the name is finalised, it is processed and then the Registrar issues the Trademark Registration Certificate duly-signed by the Trademark Registry. The trademark owner can now use the registered trademark logo (®) beside the brand name or logo from the date of issuance of this certificate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of trademarks are NOT registerable?

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Why should I file an application for a trademark?

There are legal and personal reasons why you must file a trademark registration application. Here are the reasons:

  • Ensure uniqueness and exclusivity of company’s products, differentiating from competitors selling same or similar products

  • Hold sole ownership of your company’s products, business ideas, etc.

  • Prevent unethical, unauthorised and fraudulent duplication of your products

  • In case the above happens, you can take legal action

  • Create brand identity and recognition for the company, which makes the products being perceived as reliable and high quality

  • Adds value to the brand, boosting sales and contributing to business growth

  • Enables you to sell your company, create a franchisee or contract it commercially

  • Become eligible for global trademark registration application when your business expands internationally

Why should I file an application for a trademark?

There are legal and personal reasons why you must file a trademark registration application. Here are the reasons:

  • Ensure uniqueness and exclusivity of company’s products, differentiating from competitors selling same or similar products

  • Hold sole ownership of your company’s products, business ideas, etc.

  • Prevent unethical, unauthorised and fraudulent duplication of your products

  • In case the above happens, you can take legal action

  • Create brand identity and recognition for the company, which makes the products being perceived as reliable and high quality

  • Adds value to the brand, boosting sales and contributing to business growth

  • Enables you to sell your company, create a franchisee or contract it commercially

  • Become eligible for global trademark registration application when your business expands internationally

What is NICE classification?

NICE classification is an international classification system that categorises products and services for registration of marks.

What is the meaning of trademark infringement?

The successful completion of the trademark registration process enables you to add the registered symbol (®) beside your company name or logo. This implies that you are the trademark owner by law. This empowers you to prevent fraudulent, unauthorised and unethical usage of your company name, ideas and products by a third-party, which is referred to as trademark infringement. In case an infringement occurs, you can proceed legally against the third-party.

Can I get a global trademark?

Yes, you should file for a global trademark registration applicable if and when you plan to expand your business internationally or have already set up business abroad. However, you have to be the holder of the Trademark Registration Certificate of the same business in India to be able to file for a global trademark.

What is the validity of trademark registration?

Once you have got your trademark registered, it will remain valid for a period of 10 years from the date of application. The registration can then be renewed for an indefinite period if you pay the renewal fees every 10 years.

Will my trademark registration be valid for all types of services and goods?

Once you have registered your trademark, it will be valid on all your existing and future products, provided they belong to the same product category. However, if you want to trademark an idea, so that no other company can legally replicate it, you will have to file for a separate trademark registration application. For instance, if you want to trademark a smell, you will have to trademark it separately.

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