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.