A trademark is a visual symbol that can be a word, name, numbers, label, color combination, etc, which is used by businesses to distinguish it’s services or products from other same goods or services which are manufactured in different businesses. Trademarks in India are listed by the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. Trademarks are registered under the Trademark Act, 1999 and give the trademark owner the power to sue for losses when infringements of trademarks happen. Registered trademarks are intellectual property for the business, they are used to safeguard the company’s investment in the brand or symbol. It is mandatory for a company to register it’s chosen Trademark as it will act as a unique symbol for the products and services you provide.
Proposed trademarks that are the same or identical to an existing registered trademark cannot be registered. Moreover, a trademark is not registrable if it is offensive, general, unreliable, not unique, includes specifically protected emblems, etc.
What Can You Register As a Trademark?
Many aspects of your brand image can be registered as a trademark. The aspect you need to consider is which aspect of your brand stands out to your customers. Pick that aspect(s) for registering.
- Product Name: You can register a particular product’s name as a trademark. Apple’s iPod is a product name trademark.
- Business Name: Registering a company name as a trademark is the most common route businesses take. Ex: Bajaj.
- Person’s Name/Surname: If your name plays an important part in generating revenue, then you can even trademark your name! Ex: Shah Rukh Khan has trademarked his name.
- Abbreviations: Abbreviations of a company or brand name can also be a trademark. Ex: BMW.
It is highly recommended to trademark a logo because it visually represents your brand. Your customers can recollect a logo faster than a name. A great example of a logo trademark is the ‘swoosh’ of Nike.
If you have a tagline for your brand, you can go ahead and trademark that as well. A tagline tells your customers what you stand for as a business. For example, KFC’s ‘It’s finger lickin’ good’.
- Other Options
- Colour Mark: You can trademark a colour or a combination of colours. (Ex: Cadbury has trademarked the colour royal blue)
- Sound Mark: Musical notes or sounds can be trademarked if we can prove that it’s distinctive. Nokia has trademarked its tune.
- Scent Mark: Even scents can be trademarked.
Why Is Trademark Registration Important?
Trademark registration is important and necessary for a business because:
- It showcases your unique identity
- It helps you build trust and loyalty among your customers
- It offers legal protection for your brand’s identity
- It is an asset in itself
- It prevents unauthorized usage of your brand’s identity.
There are 45 trademark classes and all the goods and services are categorized across these classes. You need to be very careful while picking the classes as it will determine the validity of your trademark for your business’ products/services. If your business operates across different goods/services that fall under different classes, you have to ensure that you apply for the trademark under all the applicable classes.
Some of the popular trademark classes in India are:
- Class 9: which includes computer software and electronics,
- Class 25: which includes clothing,
- Class 35: which includes business management and advertising, and
- Class 41: which includes education and entertainment.
If you are operating within these trademark classes, the competition for a trademark might be higher. However, that shouldn’t matter as long as your mark is unique.
Initially, you have to provide us with the following details:
- Applicant’s name
- Business type
- Business objectives
- Brand/logo/slogan name
- Registration address
The documents required are:
- Signed Form-48
- Identification proof of the signatory
- Address proof of the signatory
- Business proof (depends on the type of business)
- Udyog Aadhar/MSME registration certificate (optional)