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Device and Word Marks in Trademark Registration

By Mayashree Acharya


Updated on: Oct 28th, 2021


7 min read

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Trademark is the brand name or logo that represents a business. A business sells goods or renders services under a trademark. It is a mark that is capable of distinguishing the products of the business from its competitors.

The trademark may be a name, number, design, combination of letters, or colours. It is a unique mark that indicates the source of the goods or services. Trademark owners/proprietors can obtain trademark registration for distinctive catch-phrases, business names, taglines, logos, and captions in India. 

Category of Trademarks in India

There are different categories of trademarks in India, such as word, logo, colours, etc. Each trademark category requires a separate registration. The trademark proprietor can choose only one category of the trademark in the trademark registration application. The different categories of the trademark are:

  • Word Mark – A word mark includes one word or a combination of words, letters, or numerals. The word need not have a meaning. It can even be a combination of random letters with or without numerical.
  • Device Mark – A device mark includes any sticker, label, logo, monogram, or any geometrical figure other than a word mark. It contains drawings and designs.
  • Colour – It consists of a colour or combination of colours with or without a device mark that is distinct from others. 
  • Three-dimensional trademark – It includes packaging or shape or of goods of certain products such as the Xbox 360 logo, whiskey bottles, etc. 
  • Sound – A tune that distinguishes the services or products offered by an entity can be trademarked. 

Device Marks in Trademarks

A device mark is a graphic image or design, which may or may not have words. The device mark may be represented along with colours. However, if the proprietor of a trademark obtains trademark registration for a logo or design containing colours, then the same colours have to be used throughout to seek trademark protection. 

When trademark proprietors wish to obtain trademark registration for a particular stylised appearance or a combination of stylised wording, colour, shape, and design, they must choose device mark registration in the trademark application. Registering a device mark prevents the third parties from using a similar logo or design for their products or services, rather than the words incorporated in the logo. 

Examples of a device mark trademark are – The Android symbol, Apple Logo, etc.

Pros and Cons of Device Mark Registration

The device mark is visually appealing to people and eye-catching. It is easy for people to remember the design rather than the words attached to the goods or services. When the design or logo with unique elements is used on various materials, it will help the business get recognition and build business image and goodwill. 

For example – The Apple logo is recognised universally without having any brand name attached to it. People recognise it just by seeing the unique apple design.

The drawback of a device mark is that there is no flexibility. No flexibility means that the mark has to be used in the same way as it was represented in the trademark registration application. If any slight changes are made to the design, the original trademark registration will not protect the design. 

Another drawback of a device mark registration is that the trademark search for a logo or design mark is more complicated than a word mark search. The proprietor needs to provide additional necessary information during registration, such as drawing of the logo, description of the logo, etc.

Word Marks in Trademark

A word mark contains the registration of only the words or letters as a trademark. In a word mark registration, attention is not given to the style or manner in which the words or letters are written, represented, the font size used, design attached with the words or any other graphic feature of the letters or words. The trademark protection is granted only for the brand name. It is the most common category of trademark registration. 

Once a trademark proprietor obtains registration for a word or combination of words or letters or numerals, the proprietor gets the right to use and represent the word in any font or format. It grants an exclusive right to the proprietor to use the word as a whole irrespective of its style for the goods and services for which registration is obtained. 

Examples of a word mark are – IBM, TATA, etc.

Pros and Cons of Word Mark Registration

The advantage of registering a word mark is flexibility. Flexibility means that the words or letters can be represented in any manner, style, font or design. Thus, the word mark ensures broader protection. However, the spelling of the word or words should be the same as stated in the trademark registration application.

Registering a word and a logo can be expensive as two applications have to be filed separately. Instead, the trademark proprietors can register the brand name and represent it with the logo of their choice.

The con of a word mark is that it is not visually appealing. Thus, the brand name may be difficult for people to remember. Plus, if the proprietors keep changing the representation of your word mark, it might confuse the consumers and may be difficult for them to remember. 

Device Marks and Word Marks Trademark Registration

The trademark proprietors must decide whether to apply for a word mark or device mark registration before filing the trademark application. They must decide whether to get only the brand name registered or only the brand logo or apply for the brand name and logo registration separately. 

Usually, the brand name of businesses contains both words and logos rather than just a logo. Ideally, business proprietors have to file separate trademark applications for word and logo to attain the broadest protection for their business. However, filing two trademark applications for both name and logo would be expensive. Thus, it is better to register the trademark as a word mark since it can be represented in any manner and ensures broader protection than a device mark.

For example – The Microsoft company has a trademark registration for the word mark, i.e. their brand name ‘Microsoft’. They recently changed their logo. If they had obtained registration for their logo as a device mark, they had to obtain a new registration for the changed logo by filing a new trademark application. The initial trademark application for the first logo would not protect any of the subsequently created logos. Since Microsoft registered their trademark as a word mark, they could change their logo without any hassles.

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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I am an advocate by profession and have a keen interest in writing. I write articles in various categories, from legal, business, personal finance, and investments to government schemes. I put words in a simplified manner and write easy-to-understand articles. Read more


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