Generally, a trademark is the visual representation of a name, word, label, device, or numeric character used by a business to differentiate its goods and/ or services from the goods and/ or services of other companies. Using a trademark, a person is able to distinguish the goods and/ or services they offer/sell from those offered by other companies.
An untouchable asset for a business is a trademark, which serves to safeguard the company’s investment in its brand or ideogram once it is registered.
If a trademark is distinct from the goods and services it provides, then it can be registered. Trademarks that are similar or identical to trademarks that are already registered cannot be registered. Additionally, trademarks that are deceptive, generic, offensive, similar, contain exclusively protected emblems, etc., cannot be registered.
Registering trademarks in India is the responsibility of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. In India, trademarks are registered under the Trademark Act, 2016 and the owner of the trademark has the right to sue for damages when their trademark is violated.
Once the trademark is registered, the symbol can be used by the owner, and it will remain valid for ten years after the trademark is registered. Trademarks approaching their expiration can, however, be easily renewed by applying for a trademark renewal application for another ten years.
Benefits of registering a trademark
It is most beneficial to have a registered trademark because it protects one’s brand and company by demonstrating the compassion of one’s organization. Additionally, a strong brand can serve as a direct link between the customer and the product by ensuring that they are reliable and associated with the business for a long time to come.
In addition to these, there are many others:
- The registration of trademarks gives goods and services credibility.
- The registration of a trademark ensures quality goods and services
- In addition to serving as an advertisement for goods, a registered trademark serves as an advertising tool for services, as well.
The importance of registering a trademark
Since it is evident from the above how beneficial it is to register a trademark while running a business, let us now explore the significance of the registration:
Trademarks provide exclusive identifiers
With so many companies and brands on the market place, it has become difficult to differentiate them from one another. The only way to distinguish between companies is to register a unique trademark for their brand and build the business’ reputation over it in order to attract customers to stand out from the competition.
Trademarks are never-ending
In addition to the fact that a trademark can last as long as the business is in existence, trademarks can also be renewed very easily after every 10 years before expiration, so a trademark can last just as long as a business does.
Trademarks act as a shield
Every entrepreneur must ensure that his/her brand is protected from competition in order to succeed. In the event, however, that the trademark that the individual is working to build already has a registered trademark by someone else, he or she loses both business and goodwill in the market, as well as the right to stop others from using that trademark. So shielding a trademark safeguards the business/trademark, proving further assistance to the individual by preventing another from using a similar trademark.
Investing in a trademark can be economical
Trademark registration is an inexpensive one-time expense. Additionally, the time period and procedure to complete a trademark registration have been shortened considerably. It typically takes 6 months to a year for a trademark to be registered.
Additionally, trademarks are valid for a period of 10 years once they are registered, and they can be easily renewed every 10 years before expiration.
Trademarks are valuable assets
As a result, the importance of a trademark increases as the business/brand/company grows. As a result, registration of a trademark increases with the growth of the business. As with any tangible asset, a registered trademark can be sold, transferred, purchased or used as a security for a loan, just as any other tangible asset can.
A step-by-step guide to registering a trademark
In order to register a trademark, a trademark registration application needs to be filed, the trademark must be examined, published or advertised, opposition (objections) must be raised/found, the trademark must be registered and renewed after every ten years.
To make the registration process easier and more reliable, it is preferred to use the services of a trademark lawyer to make it simpler and easier.
Step 1: Conduct a trademark search
In choosing a trademark, the applicant must be very careful. In light of the enormous number of different types of trademarks available, once a trademark has been chosen, a public search of the Trade Marks Registry’s trademark database is essential to ensuring that the trademark is unique and that there are no other trademarks that are similar or identical.
The trademark search identifies all existing trademarks, whether registered or unregistered, in the market, and whether the applied trademark is competitive with another trademark.
Step 2: Filing the trademark application
It is completely up to the business to decide whether to file a single-class trademark application or a multi-class application for trademark registration in India.
If you need to register a trademark, use Form TM- A, which can be filed online on the official IP India website or in person at the Trade Marks Office.
In order to register a trademark, multiple documents are required, providing detailed information about the trademark. Further, if the applicant is claiming prior use of the trademark, a user affidavit must be filed, which supports the use as well as evidence that it was used previously.
Step 3: Examining the trademark application by the government
An examination report is required to be issued by the Examiner after a comprehensive examination of the trademark application in accordance with the Trade Marks Act, 2016.
A trademark examination report by the Trademark Authority may or may not contain some objections which may be absolute, relative, or procedural. An examination report by the Trademark Authority is issued within 30 days of filing the registration application.
Within 30 days after receiving the examination report, a reply should be sent indicating the arguments and evidence against any objections that should be waived.
Step 4: Post-exam
When the Examiner (Trademark Authority) receives the reply filed to the examination report, it can appoint a hearing if he is not completely satisfied with it, or if the objections have not been addressed. A mark may be accepted by the Examiner after the hearing, and then the application can be forwarded to the journal, or it may be rejected if any objections remain.
Step 5: Advertising the trademark
The trademark is advertised and published in the Trade Marks Journal for a period of four months after the registration application has been accepted. Publication and advertisement are intended to encourage the public to oppose the registration of the mark.
Trade Marks Journal updates every Monday of every week on the official registry website.
Step 6: Public opposition
A notice can be filed by any aggrieved person to oppose registration of the advertised/published trademark after the advertisement and publication in the journal. Within four months of the mark being published in the Trademark Journal, a notice to oppose the trademark must be submitted via Form TM-O. When an application for a trademark is opposed or objected to, then the due process of law must be followed, which includes filing a counter statement, providing evidence, and attending a hearing to register the trademark.
Step 7: Registering the trademark
Upon conquering any objections and/or oppositions to the registration of the trademark, the application proceeds to registration.
In addition, if no objections have been received against the registration of the trademark during the advertisement/publication period of four months, an auto-generated registration certificate will be issued within one week. Following the completion of the registration, it is valid for 10 years, after which it must be renewed within a specific period of time.
Where can I find information about trademark units in India?
It can be challenging to decide if a trademark should be registered as a word mark or a logo in India because trademarks can be registered in many different formats, such as logos, labels, words, and even devices.
Mark the word
The word mark is the easiest of the other available trademarks, identifying the brand’s name alone. For example, Jio or Britannia have trademarked only the word.
The word is automatically registered with a word mark. In the event that a trademark is registered as a word mark, the applicant has an absolute right to represent and use the word in any font or format, allowing it broader protection, such as exclusive rights to the word as a whole and to describe it in numerous formats, regardless of its style, for all goods and services related to it.
As opposed to this, a logo grants the trademark holder the right to combine images, words, and designs in a single package. The applicant would also want to file a trademark for the business logo if it is widely recognized by viewers or customers. For example, Nike, Adidas, etc.
A logo mark provides a limited shield for the words, compared to a standard word mark, as the logo mark has only legitimate rights as a whole. Therefore, registering a trademark as a logo is a good option for someone wishing to register a distinctive design appearance or a union of stylized words and designs.
Composite logo mark
There are usually words as well as logos in a business’s brand name. The best way to safeguard the intellectual property in such situations would be to file the trademark as both a word mark and a logo, as Jack & Jones (a global apparel manufacturer) has an intricate composite logo mark, which incorporates even the placement of its label on the back of its jeans. Because it is so expensive to file several trademark applications, it is always recommended to register the mark as a word mark.
For the comprehensive shield to be achieved, a separate trademark application must be filed for both the word and logo. It may be cost-ineffective for start-up businesses. Consequently, it is recommended that the trademark be registered as a word mark, which provides the applicant with the next best protection against infringement.
Registration of a trademark requires the following documents
Through trademark registration, brands/ businesses can secure themselves against non-authorized use and infringement of their trademarks.
With time, the Government of India has simplified the trademark registration procedure to enable entrepreneurs to comfortably procure trademark registration for their brands within a couple of months. For trademark registration in India, the following documents are required.
In the course of trademark application registration, original documents are not required. Scanned copies of the originals are sufficient.
Documents required for individuals and sole proprietorships
Obtaining a trademark registration in India is very convenient for any individual (applicant) – whether they are Indian or foreign nationals. It is not necessary to have a legal entity or an entity for business purposes.
In addition, the documents needed to obtain a trademark registration in the name of a proprietorship are the same as those required of individuals, as follows:
- If you do not have a logo to provide, the trademark application for the word can be filed if no logo is provided.
- Form 48, duly signed by the applicant, which is an authorisation from the applicant to a trademark attorney to file the trademark registration application on their behalf.
- Copy of an individual’s passport, Aadhar card, PAN card, etc. This may include a passport copy, aadhaar copy, or a PAN copy.
- A copy of the applicant’s or owner’s address proof, e.g., recent electricity bill, phone bill.
Documents required for partnerships, LLPs, and companies – SME or start-ups
There is a range of fees between Rs. 4500 and Rs. 9500 for trademark registration in India.
The trademark registration fee set by the government is Rs. 9500 for all other business entities. It is Rs. 4500 for start-ups, small businesses, individuals, and sole proprietorships.
The individual applicant must now provide the Udyog Aadhaar registration certificate in order to qualify as a small enterprise. Also, in addition to the Udyog Aadhaar registration, the following details are required.
Company / LLP / Partnership
The entrepreneur/applicant must submit the following documents in the case of a partnership or an LLP:
- Logo scan (optional)
- Form 48 duly signed
- Certificate of Registration for Udyog Aadhaar
- Certificate of Incorporation or Partnership Deed
- Copy of identification proof of signatory/applicant
- Signatory/applicant’s address proof
A trademark registration requires the following documents from other applicants
The following documents will be required to apply for trademark registration in India by all other applicants, including those that do not have Udyog Aadhaar.
- Logo scan (optional)
- Fill out and sign Form-48
- Certificate of Incorporation or Partnership Deed
- Documentation proving the identity of the signatory/applicant
- Signatory/applicant’s address proof