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Assignment of Trademark

Updated on :  

08 min read.

Trademark proprietors can transfer trademarks similarly to how they can transfer physical properties. One of the ways to transfer a trademark is through an assignment. Assignment means transferring rights, interests, titles and benefits from one person to another. Assignment of a trademark means to transfer the owner’s right in a trademark to another person.

The transferring party is called the assignor, and the receiving party is called the assignee. Section 2(1)(b) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 states that assignment means an assignment of a trademark in writing by the act of the concerned parties. Both unregistered and registered trademarks can be assigned with or without the goodwill of the business.

Who can Assign a Trademark?

Section 37 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 states that the person registered as proprietor of trademark in the register of trademarks has the power to assign a trademark and receive consideration for such assignment. Thus, a trademark proprietor can assign a trademark to another person.

Kinds of Trademark Assignment

The different kinds of trademark assignments are as follows:

Complete Assignment 

The trademark proprietor transfers all rights in the trademark to another person, including the right to earn royalties, to further transfer, etc. 

For example: X is the proprietor of brand ‘ABC’. X assigns his trademark ‘ABC’ completely through an agreement to Y. After this, X will not have any rights with respect to the brand ‘ABC’.

Partial Assignment

The trademark proprietor assigns the trademark to another person with respect to only specific services or goods. The transfer of ownership in the trademark is restricted to specific services or products.

For example: X is the proprietor of a brand ‘ABC’ used for sauces and dairy products. X assigns the rights in the brand ‘ABC’ with respect to only dairy products to Y and retains the rights in the brand  ‘ABC’ with respect to sauces.

Assignment with Goodwill of Business 

The trademark proprietor assigns the rights, entitlements and values associated with a trademark to another person. When the trademark is assigned with goodwill, the assignee can use the trademark for any class of goods or services, including the goods or services which were already in use by the assignor. 

For example: X is the proprietor of ‘Sherry’ brand relating to hair products. X assigns the brand ‘Sherry’ to Y with goodwill. Y will be able to use the brand ‘Sherry’ with respect to food products and any other products they manufacture.

Assignment without the Goodwill of Business 

The trademark proprietor assigns to the assignee rights and entitlements in a trademark with respect to the products or services that are not in use. The assignor restricts the transfer of the rights in the trademark in the case of assignment without goodwill. The assignor assigns with the condition that the assignee is not entitled to use the trademark relating to the goods or services already in use by the assignor.

For example: X is the proprietor of a brand ‘Sherry’ that he uses for manufacturing and selling bags. X assigns the brand ‘Sherry’ without goodwill to Y. Y will be able to use the brand ‘Sherry’ for any other product other than bags.

Pre-Requisites for Assignment of Trademark

  • The trademark assignment should be in writing.
  • The assignment should be between two identifying parties, i.e. assignor (owner of the trademark) and the assignee (buyer of the trademark).
  • The assignor should have the intent and must consent for the trademark assignment.
  • The trademark assignment should be for a proper and adequate consideration (amount).

Trademark Assignment Agreement

The proprietor of a trademark generally assigns it to the assignee through a properly executed trademark assignment agreement. The trademark assignment agreement should be drafted keeping the following points in mind:

  • The rights of the trademark should not be detrimentally affected due to the obligations contained in the agreement.
  • The decision and requirement regarding whether the assignment is with or without the goodwill of the business must be explicitly mentioned.
  • The agreement should show a clear purpose of the transaction/assignment.
  • The geographical scope of the location where the assignee possesses the values and rights in the trademark must be mentioned.
  • The transfer of the right to collect and sue damages for future and past infringements must be mentioned.
  • The agreement should be duly executed, i.e. it must be stamped and notarised as per the applicable Stamp Act.
  • The signatures and witnesses must be mentioned.
  • The place and date of agreement execution must be mentioned.
  • The date and day of the assignment along with the parties to the assignment must be mentioned.
  • The agreement should mention whether or not it would be binding on the legal heirs of the assignor and assignee.

Process of Assignment of Trademark

The process of assignment of the trademark in India are as follows:

  • The proprietor of the trademark (assignor) assigns his/her rights in the trademark through a trademark assignment agreement to the assignee.
  • The assignor or assignee, or both, can make a joint request to register the assignment by filing an application of a trademark assignment in Form TM-P to the register of trademarks.
  • Form TM-P must be filed with the registrar of the trademark within six months from the date of the assignment. The application can be filed after six months of assignment, but the fee may vary accordingly.
  • The assignment must be advertised in such a manner and within the period directed by the registrar of trademarks.
  • The copy of the advertisement and the registrar’s direction should be submitted to the office of the registrar of trademarks.
  • Upon the receipt of the trademark assignment application (form TM-P) and required documents, the registrar of trademarks will register the assignee as the proprietor of the trademark and record the specifications of the assignment in the register.

Documents Required for Assignment of Trademark

The following documents must be submitted to the registrar of trademark along with form TM-P:

  • Trademark assignment agreement.
  • Trademark certificate.
  • NOC from the assignor.
  • Identification documents of the assignor and assignee.

Restrictions on Assignment of Trademark

The Trademarks Act, 1999 provides the following restrictions on trademark assignment:

Parallel Use Restriction 

The assignor cannot assign a trademark when the assignment results in the creation of exclusive rights in different persons with relation to the same or similar products or services and will likely deceive or cause confusion. Thus, multiple exclusive rights relating to the same/similar products or services in different persons are not allowed. It prevents the parallel use of a trademark by more than one person in relation to the same/similar products or services.

Multiple Territorial Use Restriction 

The assignor cannot assign a trademark when the assignment results in the creation of an exclusive right in different persons in various parts of India relating to the same/similar products or services. The assignor cannot assign a trademark when the assignment results in the creation of an exclusive right in different persons in various parts of India relating to the same/similar products or services sold or delivered outside India. Thus, assigning rights in different parts of India relating to the same/similar products or services is not allowed.

Benefits of Trademark Assignment

  • The trademark assignment enables the trademark proprietor to encash the value of his/her brand.
  • The assignee obtains the rights of an already established brand due to trademark assignment.
  • The trademark assignment supports the assignor and the assignee to expand their respective businesses.
  • The trademark assignment agreement enables the assignor and the assignee to establish their legal rights in case of any dispute.

Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are solely for information purposes. No attorney-client relationship is created when you access or use the site or the materials. The information presented on this site does not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your state.

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