In general trade parlance, a trademark is a symbol which may be a word, name, device, label or numeral used by a business in order to distinguish the goods or services supplied by them from other similar products or services available in the market which are owned and supplied by other businesses. A trademark help in promotion of a product or service and creates more faith and trust amount the customers about the product.
A trademark is an intangible asset having its intrinsic value and like other assets it can be protected under the Indian law from being misused or misrepresentation. The trademarks act, 1999 provides for the safeguard measures.
A trademark has its own intrinsic value. It represents the product in the market also the owner of such products. Therefore, trademark needs protection from being misused by the competitor or any other person.
In order to protect a trademark from being copied by others, the inventor of the word or symbol must apply for trademark registration. The process for trademark registration comprises different steps which needs to be followed while applying for the registration.
A trademark application can be filed by any person or legal entity in India including foreign nationals and foreign entities. The mark does not necessarily have to be used before applying for registration by a person however its usage prior to the registration usually increases the chances of obtaining the registration.
There are various benefits of obtaining the trademark registration as it is by all means enhances the value of business product or services. It reduces the chances of copying the products as it provides legal protection the trademark owner. The benefits can be enumerated as under:
Trademark enhances the value of products. It helps in developing the trust among the end user of product. Products/ services are identified by their logo which helps create brand value over time. A strong brand is a huge pull for new customers and an anchor for existing customers.
Registering a trademark early and using it will create goodwill and generate more business for the brand owner.
Trademark provides legal safeguard against misuse such as infringement or copying of a company’s trade name or trade logo to make money. Trademark gives the trademark owner an exclusive ownership of the trademark which can be legally claim in the courts of law across the nation.
Trademark grants the trademark owner an exclusive right to make use of trademark. No one can make use a registered trademark without the permission of the trademark owner.
A registered trademark is an intangible asset having its own intrinsic value in the market. Usage of trademark boost the business sales and develop faith among the end use of the product.
Trademark registration is gradual process starting from filing an application till getting registered in the official gazette. The different stages in the process of registration of trademark has been summarised as below:
The process of trademark application starts with the search of trademark. Although this process is done in order to minimize the chances of rejection of trademark registration, to reduce the chances of objection and opposition. A deliberate research before filing an application maximize the chances of allotment of trademark.
In order to bring uniformity and clarity, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) has classified all goods & services under 45 classes. Out of 45 different classes, the first 35 classes represents classification of products and the rest of the classes represents services.
After the deliberate search of trademark, an application is filed with the trademark registration on the online portal. Once the trademark registration application is filed with the trademark registrar, a trademark application allotment number is provided within one or two working days.
The status of application can then be tracked online through the online trademark search facility. After obtaining the allotment number, the owner of the trademark can affix the TM symbol next to the logo.
After filing of the application and issues of allotment number. The stage of Vienna codification starts which is established by the Vienna agreement (1973) is an international classification of the figurative elements of marks.
After filing of application, the trademark registrar will apply the Vienna classification to the trademark based on the figurative elements of marks. Till the process of classification continue, the trademark application status usually shows as “sent for Vienna codification”.
Once the Vienna codification is complete, the trademark registration application will be allotted to an officer in the trademark registrar office. The trademark officer would then review the trademark application for correctness and issue a trademark examination report. The officer will either accept the application and allow for journal publication or object the same.
If the trademark registration application is objected by the Trademark Officer, the trademark applicant has the right to appear before the officer and address the objections. If the officer is satisfied with the justifications of the trademark applicant, the trademark would be allowed for trademark journal publication. In case the officer is not satisfied with the justifications, the trademark applicant has the right to appeal the decision of the Trademark officer before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.
Once the trademark registration application is accepted by the registrar, the proposed mark is published in the trademark journal. The trademark journal is published weekly and contains all the trademarks that have been accepted by the registrar. Once it is published, the public have an opportunity to object to a particular registration, if they believe their business will be damaged by that registration. If there are no objections filed within 90 days of that publication, the mark will typically be registered within 12 weeks’ time.
If the trademark registration application is opposed by a third-party, a hearing will be called for by the trademark hearing officer. Both the applicant and the opposing party have the chance to appear at the hearing and provide justifications for registration or rejection of the trademark application. Based on the hearings and the evidence presented, the hearing officer will determine if the application should be accepted or rejected. The decision of the hearing officer can also be challenged by escalating it to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.
If there are no objections or oppositions to the application, the trademark manuscript and trademark registration certificate will be prepared. Once the trademark registration certificate is issued, the mark is considered to be a registered trademark of the owner, granting the owner exclusive use of the mark. The symbol ® can now be placed next to the logo.