WHAT IS TRADEMARK?
A Trademark is a brand name, a slogan or a logo. It identifies the services or goods of one person and distinguishes it from those of another.
- A brand name can be a word or a combination of words.
- A slogan is a short phrase.
- A logo is a distinctive picture or symbol.
A trade mark not appropriately protected may give rise to legal conflicts and may also restrict a corporate from using the respective mark that signifies its very existence. When a trade mark has been registered, nobody else can use this trade mark or one that is confusingly similar. If this happens, legal actions may result. Trade Mark is a prerequisite to Brand Building and the journey from Trade Mark to Brand and Brand Equity is tedious and needs proper blending of resources, mere advertisement does not help.
FILING FOR TRADEMARK
In India, the usual time taken by the Trademarks Registry from filing to registration is between 18-24 months for a straight forward application.
The Indian Trade Mark Office examines all applications with respect to the (a) filing requirements (b) absolute grounds for refusal or (c) relative grounds over the earlier identical or confusingly similar Trade Mark applications/registrations for the goods or services concerned within 10-12 months.
If it is found to be registrable, the examiner will accept the same and forward it for advertisement in the Journal. In case of any objections, the Examiner issues an Examination report and the applicant has to prepare and file a response in 30 days. If the Registrar’s decision is again against the registration of the mark, the Trademark Registry fixes a date of personal hearing.
The Applicant is then required to represent his case before the Registrar and satisfy the Registrar regarding acceptability of the proposed mark for registration. In the affirmative, it will be published for the opposition of third parties for 4 months in Official Trade Mark Journal. Application will be registered within 2-3 months after expiry of period of filing notice of opposition, provided that no opposition is received.
- TRADE MARK SEARCH : This search is to check whether your business name or logo is similar to other already registered Trade Marks. Generally Trade Mark agent or attorney conducts this search with the Trade Mark Office to check if there are any similar Trade Marks already registered under that particular class. There are two types of search: Offline and Online.
- TRADE MARK APPLICATION : Based on the result of search conducted, a Trade Mark application will be drafted provided that your business or trade logo is found to be unique. If someone already has the similar Trade Mark, then you need to change yours.You can start using ™ symbol as soon as you file the form of Trade Mark application.
- TRADE MARK REGISTRATION : Government fees is Rs. 4,500/- in case of Individual/ Startup/ Small Enterprise and Rs. 9,000/- in other cases.
The Trade Marks office will first check your application to see if it’s already been taken. If it has, a Trade Mark objection will be raised.
If it has no objection, it makes an advertisement in the Trade Marks Journal
If there is no opposition from other businesses in the next four months, your Trade Mark is registered around six months later.
TIME TAKEN TO OBTAIN A TRADE MARK REGISTRATION
It can take anywhere between 18 months to 2 years for the Trade Mark Office to decide whether or not to grant you the Trade Mark; if there are objections from the Trade Mark office or from anyone else, it may take longer. And your Trade Mark is published in the Trade Mark Journal.
REMEDIES AVAILABLE DURING INFRINGEMENT OF TRADE MARK
Two types of remedies are available to the owner of a Trade Mark for unauthorized use of his or her mark or its imitation by a third party –
- Action for infringement’ in case of a registered Trade Mark
In an action involving infringement or passing off, a court may grant relief of injunction and/or monetary compensation for damages for loss of business and/or confiscation/destruction of infringing labels and tags etc . Although registration of Trade Mark is prima facie an evidence of validity of a Trade Mark, yet the registration cannot upstage a prior consistent user of Trade Mark, for the rule is ‘priority in adoption prevails over priority in registration`. It is a statutory remedy.
- Action for passing off’ in the case of an unregistered Trade Mark
Passing off is a common law tort, which can be used to enforce unregistered Trade Mark rights. The law of passing off prevents one person from misrepresenting his goods or services as that of another. In a suit for passing off the plaintiff must establish firstly, goodwill or reputation attached to his goods or services. Then it should be proved that there was a misrepresentation by the defendant to the public