Trademark

A trademark is a mark that is capable to distinguish goods and services of one person from those of another person. Registration of a  trademark gives exclusive right to the proprietor of the trademark to use the mark to represent his goods and services.

A good trademark is catchy in appearance. It is original representation of the owner’s goods or services. It is preferably a coined name. It is not inspired from its competitors. A good trademark is not a suggestive mark. It doesn't indicate its primary use or advantage. It is easy to pronounce and appealing to eye. It should have ability to distinguish the goods and services it is representation from other competitors. It has generally three or more letters or characters. Generic names are not good trademarks. However many trademarks became so popular that people use them alternatively with the generic word. For example, google has become an equivalent word of search.

Any person who is proprietor of the mark can apply for trademark protection in India.

It generally takes 12-15 months from a date of filing to register a trademark in India. However, in case of objections from examiners or any objection from any interested person may involve more time to register a trademark.

An applicant’s trademark is supposed to be registrable if it is distinctive and it is not conflicting with existing trademarks in the trademark register of the trademark office. Legally there are two types of grounds of refusal of trademarks such as absolute grounds and relative grounds for refusal of trademarks.

Trademark protection doesn't have a term it is a perpetual right. Initially it is granted for 10 years and one has to renew it before the expiry of the term for which it is in force. If a registered trademark is not in renewed before expiry of the mark then it may lose the force.

The trademark office has classified all of the goods and services in the world in 45 classes. 1-34 classes are in respect of manufacturing and 35-45 are in respect of services. India has adopted 7th edition of classification of goods and services. It is referred as NICE classification of goods and services. Most of the countries of the world follow NICE classification.

A statement of use is a description of the activity carried under a trademark. Such a statement should be made in the trademark application form.

A brand, coined name, logo, label, shape of goods, signature, slogan, symbol, smell, sound, three dimensional representations, word etc. can be registered as a trademark.

Service is trademark which is specially used to distinguish services of the proprietor of the mark. A collective mark is a trademark that is used by any organisation/ association or a collective group.

A trademark and trade name might be same however it is not a thumb rule. They can be different. For example: Blackberry is a registered trademark of an Canadian Company Research in Motion (RIM) where the trade-name is RIM. A business name generally used to identify a business associated with it. For example: Rajmal Lakhichand is a business name.

There is no international trademark as such. However, one can protect same trademark in desired countries internationally. There are various treaties that promote protection of trademarks crossing the boundaries of countries. For example, OAPI and ARIPO are group of countries in African continent where you can protect a trademark in more than one country by filing a single application for trademark. Similarly, OHIM is a system of harmonisation of trademark rights in European continent.