1. What is a Trademark
In simple words, trademarks are special unique signs that are used to identify goods or services from a certain company. They can be designs, pictures, signs or even expressions. It is important because it differentiates your products from the competitions. It can be associated with your brand or product. Trademarks are classified as intellectual property and therefore is protected from infringement. Trademarks and its rights are protected by the Trademark Act, 1999.
To get the protection of trademark rights one has to register the trademark. It is important to register your trademark because it prevents others from copying your mark and misrepresenting other products with your mark. Trademarks help the customers to recognise the brand and the brand value in one look such as the logo of a tick sign for Nike or a jumping wildcat for Puma etc.
Unlike patents, trademark does not have a definite limitation period. Where a patent expires in 20 years a trademark registration expires after 10 years of its registration, but unlike patents, a trademark can be renewed again for another 10 years. This process can be indefinitely done, meaning as long as you keep renewing the trademark it will not expire and will continue to be under the protection of the Act.
2. Trademark Registry
The trademark registry was established in 1940 then came the Trademark Act which was passed in 1999. Currently, the trademark registry works as the operation or functional body of the Act. Or it can also be said to be working side by side.
As a functioning body, the trademark registry implements all the rules and regulation of the trademark law in India. The Head Office of the trademark registry is in Mumbai and it has branch offices in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Kolkata.
When registering a trademark, it is registered under the Trademark Act, 1999 and then the registry of trademarks registers it. In this process, the registry will check whether the registering mark meets all the conditions of the Act before registering it.
3. How to Register a Trademark
Registration of a trademark is done by the registry of the trademarks. When you plan on registering a trademark there are a few steps involved.
- Choosing a trademark:
Remember to choose a unique and distinctive mark it will represent your company. The other important point is identifying which class you belong to. Currently, there are 45 classes of goods and services under which the trademark can be registered.
Classes 1-34 are for goods and classes 35-45 are for service. You can find the class list here.
- Mark search:
Once you have chosen your mark it is advisable to conduct a search to check whether your chosen mark is similar to an already registered mark. You can either do this yourself by going to the online website of the Controller general of patents, designs and trademarks. On the website, you can find an option to do a public search. Once click on this option you need to choose your class and search the online database.
The other option is to get legal services, although you will have to pay for it is the safer option.
Overall legal services will cost lesser in case your trademark is objected against. Not only will they do the search they will also help you with the whole process.
- Filing application:
There are two options you can take while filing for a trademark.
- File for a trademark under “one” class. Meaning the trademark will be registered only for the specific class that you have chosen. In this case, you have to fill in form TM-1. The fee payable for the filing of form TM-1 is rupees 3,500. You can find all the amounts payable for the corresponding forms here.
- The other option is to file for multiple classes or series trademark, or collective trademark. For this, you have to fill in form TM-A. this form allows you to register the trademark beyond one class. Filing of this form has two separate cost brackets:
- Rupees 9,000 or rupees 10,000
If you are not a start-up, small enterprise or an individual you will fall under this bracket. You have to pay rupees 9,000 for e-filing of the from or rupees 10,000 if you file the form in person.
- Rupees 4,500 or rupees 5,000
If you are an individual, small enterprise or a start-up then you fall under this bracket. Rupees 4,500 is the charge for e-filing of the form or rupees 5,000 if you file the form physically.
While filling the form make sure not to make any mistakes, this may lead to delays or even rejection of the application. You have to fill in all the details and also add a picture of the trademark with the dimensions of 9 by 5 cms. You may be required to attach five duplicates of the same. The full file must be then submitted with two duplicates when filing.
You can file it online or by yourself or by an agent, whichever is convenient for you. Confirmation of filing will be done immediately if done online, if done physically it may take to 15-20 days.
4. Status of application
Once you have received the confirmation of the filing of the application you will get an allotment number. You can check the progress of the application online with this allotment number. This will take time, if there is no problem with the filing then you will get to know whether your application is approved or rejected in 18-24 months. If there is a problem then this may take longer.
Files are prioritised according to the filing date, therefore the longer it takes the more priority your application gets.
The other perk about filing the application is that even if it hasn’t been approved you can use the TM symbol next to your mark, once you have received your allotment number.
Once your trademark is approved the registry will give you a trademark registration certificate. This will officially confirm that your trademark has been registered and is now protected. The registration will be valid for 10 years from the date of the filing of the application. After this period you can renew the trademark again. Renewal can be done indefinitely.
Please Note: A trademark is only protected and valid in India and does not warrant any international status.
6. Top 8 Things You Need to Know Regarding Trademark Registration
A trademark can be one of your company’s most valuable assets. It is a form of identification and contributes significantly towards building the company’s public image. A trademark is a visual symbol – a word, name, numbers, label, logo, a combination of colours etc. It is a mark of uniqueness and helps the customers identify a particular brand or company.
The Trademark Act, 1999, governs the laws related to trademarks and their registration.
The trademarks in India are registered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, (Office of the Registrar of Trademarks), Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Government of India.
Take a look at the top 8 things you need to know about trademark registration:
1. A Visual Representation
The types of trademarks you can get registered are quite varied. Here are a few types:-
– Word Marks
– Service Marks
– Logos and Symbols
– Shape of Goods
– Series Marks
– Collective Trademarks
– Certification Mark
– Geographical Indicators
– Pattern Marks
– Sound Marks
– Colour Marks
– Three Dimensional Marks
2. An Intangible Asset
Consider the fact that your business builds a reputed name and turns out a successful brand. A trademark, being a type of intellectual property, brings heaps of benefits to the company. Once a trademark is registered, it becomes an intangible asset that can be traded, franchised, commercially contracted and distributed.
3. Protection Against Infringement and Other Legal Protection
The owner of a registered trademark can exercise his legal rights in case there is any infringement with regard to the owner’s logo, brand, a slogan that has an active trademark against it. The owner has the right to sue any third party that uses the trademark without the prior permission of the owner of the trademark.
4. Trademark Search
A trademark search is usually carried out to check if a particular trademark already exists. The search can be conducted through the government’s Indian Trademark Registry database or a third-party service provider website.
5. Class Selection
The goods and services here are classified into 45 different sectors. Each sector is referred to as a class. Every logo or brand name is to be registered under the appropriate class at the time of application. Out of the 45 different classes, 34 of those classes comprise of product classes, and the remaining 11 are for service.
6. Voluntary, not Compulsory Registration
The registration of a trademark is done on a voluntary basis. However, if a trademark is registered, it holds concrete evidence that the ownership of the trademark belongs to the person who has taken the effort to register it. All legal decisions will be in favour of the party that had the trademark registered.
A registered trademark has a period of validity that stretches up to 10 years before it has to be renewed again. However, the renewal process may be initiated only within one year before the expiry of the registered trademark. If one fails to do so, the trademark will be removed. Even on removal, the trademark can be reinstated through what is known as restoration of the trademark in the prescribed form.
8. Trademark Symbols
- Trade Mark (TM) and Service Mark (SM)
This symbolises that the trademark has not yet been registered, but an application for the same is pending. It is put up to warn third parties lest they infringe upon the same. There is no specific legal significance as such because the application has not yet been approved by the authorities.
- R Symbol
On the approval of the trademark application, you, as the proud owner of the newly registered trademark, are empowered to display the R symbol next to the trademark. This symbolises that the trademark is officially registered, that infringement of any kind by a third party will be punishable by law.
It is not mandatory to display the R symbol. However, it protects the owner of the trademark in a way that, should anyone rip-off the actual product, on suing the third party for infringement, he has a right to recover all the profits that were lost. This is because the court requires the owner to prove that the infringer was aware of the fact that the trademark was registered and yet went ahead to use it without any prior permission.
- C Symbol
The C symbol is generally used to signify copyright that the owner has over some creative work. This includes:-
– Literary Works
The C symbol is valid for a lifetime. The symbol is used with the copyright holder’s name and the year of the first publication in the country where the work was copyrighted.
All in all, there is a lot that one must be aware of when it comes to trademarks and their registration. The process, in itself, is quite tricky, which is why the applicant must carry out proper research concerning the same. Therefore, registering your trademark has benefits aplenty provided it is done with due care.