Trademark Overview - Benefits, Validity, Eligibility, Types and Symbols

What is Trademark? An Overview

A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. These signs can be a name, logo, symbol, device, label, numeral, heading, label, ticket, signature, graphics, photographs, shape and packaging of goods, monograms, 3 dimensional shapes, colour combinations or any other mark on goods and services that distinguish it from those of others.
Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights laws. In India, Trademarks Act, 1999 (including its amendments) and Trademarks Rules, 2017 governs the law and rules related to trademarks.

As per Trademark Act, 1999, “trade mark” means a mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others and may include shape of goods, their packaging and combination of colours.

Who gives trademark in India?

Trademark Registry was established in India in 1940 and presently it administers the mentioned Acts and Rules of Trademarks. It acts as a resource and information Centre and is a facilitator in matters relating to trademarks in the country.
The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry administer protection of trademarks.

What are the benefits of registering Trademarks in India?

1. Exclusive Rights

A trade mark provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring the exclusive right to use it, or to authorize another to use the same in return for payment. The period of protection varies, but a trademark can be renewed indefinitely beyond the time limit on payment of additional fees.

2. Customer Loyalty and Goodwill

The quality of your product or service corresponding to the registered trademark establishes its goodwill and trust in the market among the customers. Moreover, the registered trademark helps in communicating the unique characteristics and vision of your company and its brand.

3. Differentiate Products

Trademark makes it quite convenient for the customers to know and recognize your product or service. What the customers do is attach the product’s quality to the brand name, which, in turn, creates its reputation in the market and attracts new customers.

4. Product's quality

It offers identity to the value of the product or service. Clients connect the service or product’s quality with the brand name and this picture is made in the market about the nature of a specific brand which helps in drawing in new clients as they can distinguish the quality of a product or service by the logo.

5. Protection against infringement

No business competitor or any other individual has the right to use your registered trademark. However, if a person does the same, then you can initiate legal proceedings against such issues of Trademark Infringement.

6. Creation of Asset

With trademark registration, you create an intangible asset and gain the exclusive rights for selling, franchising, assigning, and commercially contracting your innovation.

7. Use of Symbol

After making trademark application, you can use ™ symbol with your trademark which states that you have applied for the registration of the trademark. After trademark registration, you can effectively use the ® symbol, which implies that it is a registered trademark, and no one can use it without seeking your permission.

Validity of Trademarks

How long does trademark last?

Trademarks do not have a definite limitation period, however a trademark registration expires after 10 years. It is renewable at the end of 10 years for another 10 years. Additionally, There is no limitation to the trademark renewal process and can be done indefinitely.
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.

Who can apply for Trademark Registration?

As per Section 18 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, any person “claiming to be the proprietor” of the trade mark ‘used’ or ‘proposed to be used’ by him may make an application in the prescribed manner for registration of his trade mark.
"Any Person" is a wide term and includes
  1. 1.
    individual
  2. 2.
    Company
  3. 3.
    Association of persons or body of individuals
  4. 4.
    Society
  5. 5.
    HUF
  6. 6.
    Partnership Firm / Limited Liability Partnership
  7. 7.
    Government
  8. 8.
    Trust

Can a joint application be made for registration of Trademarks?

The Trademark Law (Section 24 ) enables registration of two or more persons to be registered as joint proprietors of the trade mark, where the mark is used or proposed to be used in relation to goods or services connected with the joint applicants.

What are the types of Trademarks?

What are examples of trademark? Types of Trademark includes:

The Trademarks Act, 1999, allows the registration of various types of trademarks such as word marks, service marks, collective marks, certification marks, series marks logos/symbols and many other.

1. Word Mark

Word Marks are the most common types of trademarks that are registered in India. These refer to any marks that are used to identify the products of a company . If the name of your product is text- based (contains text only) it will be registered under Word Marks.
Maggi is a registered as Word mark.

2. Service Mark

Service Marks represent the service which a company or business deals in. They distinguish different services available in the market and is filed under trademark classes 35-45.
Infosys is a registered trademark for providing various Services regarding Information Technology.

3. Logo and Symbols

Is logo a trademark?

Logos and symbols are the printed figure / design or character or painted design or figures that indicate the com pany’s name, service or product’s name.
Reliance Logo is registered as trademark by Reliance Industries Limited.

4. Shape Marks

Shape marks are the marks which are the shapes of the product or packaging of the business. Appearance of the product can distinguish the product from other products.
CocaCola bottle's share is registered by CocaCola Company.

5. Collective Marks

When the marks are linked with a group of people or services collectively It is said to be the Collective Mark. The trademark is owned by the organization but it can be used by multiple people.
Logo of Institute of Company Secretaries of Indi-a
A company secretary can use the “CS" device as he is a registered member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India.

6. Series Marks

Series marks or Series of trademarks refer to a plurality of marks which have either a common suffix or prefix. Series marks help form an association amongst the products as they fall within the same family of marks and distinguish them from the other range of products.
McDonald's have a series of 'Mc' registered as word mark which represents their different product range such as McPuff, Mc Veggie etc.

7. Certification Mark

This is a mark which proves that the company has met with the standards and quality of the products. This would make the public aware of the fact that a particular company’s product has met the standards laid down by the certifying body.
FSSAI - Certification for the quality of packaged food products.

8. Geographical Indicators

A geographical indication is used on products to show the unique nature, reputation and quality the products possess based on the place of origin.
Alphanso Mangoes
The king of Indian mangoes, the Alphonso mango from Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and adjoining areas in Maharashtra, had already acquired the GI tag October 3, 2018 from the government.

What are different symbols used in Trademarks?

Can I use TM symbol without registering? Can I put TM on my logo? What is the difference between TM and R in India?

1. Trade Mark (TM) and Service Mark (SM)

This symbolizes that the trademark has not yet been registered, but an application for the same is pending. There is no specific legal significance as such because the application has not yet been approved by the authorities.

2. 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.

Different Classes of Trademarks

Common Questions about Trademark in India

What is trademark in simple words? What is trademark with example? What do u mean by trademark? What is the purpose of trademark? What are the types of trademarks? What is the purpose of trademark? Do trademarks expire? Can I use TM without registering? Is a trademark worth it? Are trademarks Free? How long do trademarks take to be approved?