Why is it important to register the trademark?
Trademark or brand names are the essential part of any successful business and the same represent its goodwill and reputation. Surprisingly, the entrepreneurs have very little thought while choosing their trademark though it could make or break their business.
What is Trademark?
Trademark is the brand identity of a business which speaks the difference between the product and services offered by them and their competitors.
A Trademark (TM) in India includes:
- Word or letter
- Logo, Signature
- Slogan, Label
- Ticket, name
- Numeral, shape of goods, packaging
- Three dimensional shapes
- Combination of colors
- Sound mark
How to choose the trademark for a business?
One must not choose his business trademark brand at his whims and fancies. They should make sure that their trademark/brand is unique and there are no identical, similar and deceptively similar trademarks existing in their channel of business. This could avoid possible conflicts & infringement action from the third parties and ultimately save unnecessary legal expenses in the future.
Stages of Trademark Registration:
- Application of Trademark :The application of trademark shall be filed after verifying the proposed trademark/brand with the Trademark Search Report for similar or conflicting marks. The Govt. Fee of Rs. 4000/- (Effective from 01.08.2014) shall be filed along with the Trademark Application. A Trademark number will be provided by the Indian Trademark Registrywithin 24 to 48 hours after the application and the same will be used in future communication.
The symbol ™ may be used along with the trademark after the application.
- Examination of Trademark :An examination report will be issued by the officials in Trademark office comparing the trademark applied with the other similar or conflicting mark existing in the Trademarks Registry. The phonetically or visually similar trademarks are cited in the examination report. The suitable reply should be filed by the proprietor of the Trademark or their Trademark attorney such objections raised in the Examination Report. If the Trademark office satisfied with the reply they may allow the trademark to be advertised in the Trademark Journal. Otherwise, the Trademark Officesends the show cause notice calling the proprietor or their attorney to attend the personal hearing with the supporting documents. It is mandatory that the proprietor of the trademark or their Attorney to attend the Hearing on the mentioned date with the supporting documents. In case of no appearance, the applied trademark will be treated as abandoned and the proprietor of the trademark may end up losing not only the legal fee they spent for the application but also their statutory rights in such trademark.
- Advertisement of Trademark in the Trademark Journal :During the show cause hearing, if the Trademarks Registry satisfied with the submission, the trademark will be allowed to be advertised in the Trademark Journal with the name of the proprietor and their mark for publication. This process ensures that any concerned third party can raise objection before the Registrar of Trademarks by filing opposition before the Indian Trademark Registry. In such scenario, the proprietor of the trademark must defend the application if they would like to continue with their trademark. In case of no opposition or objection raised from any third party for a period of four months from the date of such advertisement, then the trademark will proceed for registration.
- Registration of Trademark :Finally, the Certificate of Registration for the trademarkwill be issued by the Indian Trademark Office which would stand as a proof of registration. The proprietor of the Trademark can start using the prestigious ® Symbol along with their Trademark.
- Renewal of Trademark :The registration is valid for a period of 10 years, and may be renewed for further periods of 10 years each with payment of the renewal fee of 5, 000 Rupees. The trademark can be protected indefinitely if it is renewed time to time.
Assistance of a Trademark Attorney:
It is advisable to get assistance from the trademark attorney before selecting the trademark, brand or logo of a business. The Trademark Attorney will offer their legal opinion for choosing the right trademark/brand for the business/products after availing the trademark search report from the Indian Trademark Registry. This would certainly help to identify similar/identical trademarks and choose the trademark free from all conflicts.
In addition to that the Trademarks Attorney conducts frequent verification and communication with the Indian Trademarks Registry to ensure that the is not stalled or ends up as abandoned in any of the above stages due to non-compliance of mandatory requirements. It is also frequently seen the entrepreneur may not receive the communications due to change of place of business or for other reasons. Thus, the appointment of Trademark Attorney could save the brand from getting abandoned or refused in the above circumstances.