What are Trademarks?
We all use a trade name under which we run our business. Our names acquire a repute in the market and earn a certain goodwill over time. Protecting this name is where Trademark registration comes into light. Any trade name can be registered as a trademark if it is distinguishable and has a market repute. Once registration is done, it gives you the exclusive right to use the trademark and restrict other from using or copying it.
The statutory law that governs Trademarks in India is the Trade Marks Act 1999 which defines it as a mark which can be represented graphically and which can distinguish your products and services from that of others. A trademark may include the shape and packaging of goods or combination of colours.
In simple words, Trademark not only gives your business an identity but also distinguishes your business from your competitors which prevents general public from being misled.
A mark can include a device (logo image), brand, heading, label, ticket, name, and signature or can be a combination of words, letters, and numerals. Shape of goods, packaging or combination of colours also act as distinguishing factor. These marks are associated with both services and goods.
Purpose of Trademarks
A Trademark not only provides an exclusive right to use the mark but also protects the mark from being fraudulently used by others to deceive the public. A Trademark doesn’t prevent others from dealing in the same goods or services as the owner, but it does ensure that the goods/services are not being carried out under the trademark owner’s name.
There’s always a risk of having other persons or companies using similar marks to gain profit from already established and successful businesses in the industry, thus, it becomes essential to have it registered because when you don’t register your Trademark, someone else might.
Although the statute does not mandate registration of Trademarks in India, however, registration grants a bundle of exclusive rights to the registered owner. Once you get a trademark registered under your name, you get the right to use it, license it or even sell it to anyone else to use for the goods or services for which it was registered. A trademark registration is valid for a period of 10 years and can be renewed for another period of 10 years.
Steps Involved in TM Registration
- Trademark search: A thorough research is conducted to check whether any similar name or mark is already registered. Existence of a similar mark acts as a hinderence and must be dealth with accordingly.
- Documentation: Affidavit in case of prior use and Form 48 are prepared for application filing.
- Form filing: Last step of application process is form filing. Form TM A is prepared and filed with the registry.
- Examination: The registry then appoints an examination officer who checks wheteher the mark has the prerequisites. The examiner has the option of raising an objection too.
- Acceptance: If the examiner approves, the mark is accepted and sent for publication in the journal.
- Publication: Once published, the registry provides a 4 month window to the general public to raise any opposition. If somebody does oppose your mark, the registrar calls the parties to establish their cases.
- Registration: If no one opposes your mark, it is then registered and entered into the Trademarks Register. the registry issues the certificate within 15 days.
Advantages of getting a TM Registered
- Trademark helps in building an image for the business.
- Distinguishes your business from the crowd.
- Facilitates the expansion of business operations.
- Legal protection against any infringement.
- Prevents others from imitating your goods or services.
- Aids clarity in any merger or franchising of the business.
- Positively impacts the perceived value of the brand.
Documents Required for Registration
Generally, an application for a Trademark filling requires -
- Soft copy of the logo/trademark to be registered in jpeg format
- A list of goods and services associated with the Trademark to be registered.
- Date of use of trademark if the trademark is already in use.
Once we file the application, we are given an application id after which you can start using the TM symbol right away.