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The one factor that makes either a product or a service different from others is a Trademark. It makes the brand stand out from competitors. This unique identity can be in the form of a logo, sound, slogan, photograph, smell, word, colour combination, and graphics.
Businesses can register this unique identity as a “Trademark”, making it the intellectual property or intangible asset of their business. It is considered as a protective cover of the business’s investment made in the logo or brand. Most businesses look to register either its logo or name. If you have a unique idea in your mind related to the logo or name, then the only way to make it your own is through registering it as a trademark.
Find all about trademark registration right here on this page
About Trademark Registration
In India, the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks & Ministry of Industry, and Commerce & Government of India provides the facility to register trademarks. The Trademark Act, 1999 established the right to register a trademark. This registration provides the right for businesses to sue other establishments or persons who try to recreate their patented trademark. Also, no other person is allowed to use the same or similar trademark.
Once you have registered the trademark, then you can use the symbol “R” with it and it will be valid for the coming ten years starting from the date of registration. There are 3 main types of trademarks here are Ⓡ and ™and SM. The basic understanding is that Ⓡ is for trademarks that are registered, ™ for goods, SM for services obtained or offered.
As per the trademark rules of India, you can trademark items such as words, images, initials, logo, images, colours, sounds, and combinations of all these. All of these help the business to establish a unique identity.
A trademark registration can be filed for and applied by anyone. They can be applied for big organisations like companies and NGOs as well. There is no restriction on the type of individuals who can apply for it.
Here are some aspects that make it important to get your business registered with a trademark to establish a unique identity.
A Huge Business Opportunity
If the product or service is being sold under a registered trademark, it aids in building reliability, goodwill, trust, and quality in the customer’s minds. It offers a unique identity for your business, helping you stand out from similar products and competitor brands.
The trademark registration is simply a means to legally protect oneself. This mark provides a way to protect your creation from getting copied or infringed on by other organisations and individuals. This right also gives you the right to sue and take legal action against anyone who recreates your work or claims it as their own.
Create a Unique Identity
Customers can figure out a specified product or service only with the help of a brand. Registering a trademark makes sure that competitors will not use it and hence, it remains your company’s unique asset.
An Asset for your Business
The trademark acts as a valuable and intangible asset to a business. It creates a name for your business and helps you to succeed. It can be contracted, sold as well as franchised commercially.
Global Trademark Filing
A trademark that is legally registered and filed in India can also be filed in other countries outside the boundaries of India. Similarly products and works from other countries can also be registered in India.
Here are some steps that you should follow to get your trademark registered legally in India.
Search if your Trademark is Unique
Before you apply for the trademark, you need to ensure that it’s unique. Use the trademark directory, to check if your trademark has already been registered. Perform a detailed check on the brand name as well as the trademark logo that you have chosen, to make sure that it is not yet registered, under anyone else’s name.
The registration of the chosen trademark is successful and considered completed only if a replica or a similar creation has not been registered with the trademark registry previously. If a similar creation has been registered previously then the registry has the facility to allow you to change the creation/logo so that it can be reregistered.
Selection of Class
When applying for the trademark registration please make note that you need to register your creation under the right class. Although the mark is generic for many products it does not mean that the registration for those products is also generic and generalised. The filing process if not done properly can lead to confusion and may also cause legal issues in future.
There are 45 segregation classes under which the trademarks can be filed. It is required to register a particular brand or logo under an apt class or logo. For instance, class 28 comprises all products as well as services associated with games, sports, and toys.
Preparing the Application
After there is the surety that the brand name is unique and can be registered, then it’s time to proceed with the application procedure. Start by filling the trademark registration form. The form is available online and can be downloaded.
Get Ready with the Required Documents
Documents required when filing for the trademark registration, are listed below:
Use a Logo along with Tagline
If the trademark application is made with the tagline, then it is not necessary for a logo. In cases, where a logo is used, then it has to be submitted in black & white format. The number of words in the tagline should be the same as described in the trademark application.
On behalf of the business, an attorney is authorized to file an application with the Trademark registrar. The trademark user affidavit should be submitted in the claim case for the last trademark that was made in the trademark application.
Trademark Application Allotment
After submitting the registration application, within 1 or 2 working days a registration allotment number is assigned for the registration form. Through this allotment number the registration form can be tracked online. The owner of the trademark can affix the ™ logo once the allotment number has been given.
This is an establishbment that was founded and set up in 1973. This is an internationally valid classification of the figurative elements of marks. The Vienna classification is applied for based on the figurative elements after the application has been filed. During this process the status usually reflects as "sent for Vienna Codification".
The application is reviewed by an officer after the Vienna Codification process is completed. The officer reviews the application for correctness and will issue a report. The application is either accepted or rejected. If the application is accepted then it is allowed for journal publication.
The applicant has the right to appear and address his concerns before the rejecting officer if his application is rejected. If the justifications appealed by the applicant have satisfied the application officer then the trademark will move to the trademark publication step of the process, else it can still be rejected. If the applicant still is given the chance to challenge the officers decision by appealing to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.
Once the trademark is accepted the next step would be journal publication.This is a weekly journal where all the trademarks that are accepted are published and are left to the public for inspection. 9 to 12 weeks is the typical time given to the public for any objections that may arise and can be filed. If no objections have been filed within that time period the mark is registered within the 12 week period.
If an objection does arise then both parties will be called in for a hearing by the trademark hearing officer. At this hearing they are given the chance to appeal their sides of the objection. After listening to both parties the hearing officer will decide on trademark acceptance or rejection. Again like in the previous step the decision of the hearing officer can be challenged if escalated to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.
The final stage is the preparation of the trademark manuscript and registration certificate. This step can be processed only if there are no more objections to the trademark. The trademark is considered registered to the applicant only once the trademark is issued. This issued document gives the owner exclusive rights to the usage of the trademark. The ™ can now be placed alongside the logo/ creation.
1. Can foreigners apply for trademark registration in India?
Yes, a foreigner can also apply for Trademark registration from India under the Madrid Protocol. The trademark office receives the application and forwards the same to WIPO.
2. What is the Madrid Protocol?
Madrid protocol has been signed by 122 countries from across the world and it enables you to register the trademark for your nation or for the one that you want.
3. Are there any benefits to file under the Madrid protocol?
Yes, there are various benefits such as common renewal dates, marks amendments, and less cost.
4. Do you guarantee approval for registration of a trademark?
It is all in the hands of the government and if it is unique, then you will surely get the approval.
5. What if someone already has a similar trademark?
You can design a different logo for the business and include your name too. You can prefix or suffix and it is acceptable.
6. What is the cost of the entire process of filing of a Trademark?
For Small Businesses or Individuals: The official fees - Rs. 4,500 per class per mark application. In case of objection from the trademark registry: the charges per response would be nil if you are using a professional representation ( Trademark agent or attorney). For Bigger establishments and Businesses: The official fees - Rs.9,000 per class per mark application. Similar is the case for bigger businesses as well where the charges for any objections or responses to the trademark registry would be nil. There would be extra charges that may arise for both if the process is done through a professional Trademark representative or an attorney.
7. How long does the entire process take and how do I check the status of my application?
The first few steps i.e the trademark search and creation of the trademark application should approximately take around 2 - 3 working days. But the last process that is the registration of the trademark can take upto 18 - 24 months time to complete. This time schedule is provided there are no unforeseen changes or challenges that may arise. The status of your application can be checked directly online via the allotment number that is provided to you at the time of registration of the trademark
8. What will happen in case of violation of an unregistered trademark?
No person or authority has the right to prevent or recover any damages for the infringement of an unregistered trademark.
Getting your asset registered and protected legally with the trademark is a huge benefit for your business. This would be the first step to officially starting a new venture and having a legal proof and record that the asset is under your name and you have the right to bring anyone to the court both Civil and Criminal courts if any infringement occurs with your asset. Without the legal proof and record to prove on a legal stand that the asset is in your name then in cases of infringement the owner will have no right to restrict or prevent the usage of his asset.
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