This guest column is by Rutwik Kishan Rao, an Engineer turned Lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
Let’s quickly go through the basics
What’s a trademark and why should you care?
Trademarks are given protection to ensure that the product always bears the mark of the genuine maker and only the maker with the ownership of the trademark is authorised to use it. This ensures that competitors do not take undue advantage of the original maker’s good will in the market and pass off their products as the products of the original maker. Consumers always get what they paid for; an assurance of quality and a genuine product/service.
Building a business needs building a brand. A strong brand lends credibility to the business and helps differentiate the company and its products from its rivals in the market.
With ever increasing players in the market, brand distinction is crucial to make you stand out in the crowd and make customers and investors sit up and take notice.
In the process of brand building, the first step is to secure a brand name. To do so, you’ll first need to identifying the right name for it, ensuring that the name isn’t already taken by someone else and finally taking ownership of the name in the form of a trademark registration.
Things to know about
- Administered in India by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
- Protection is jurisdiction specific (trademark is granted for a specific country) and perpetual in nature (ownership remains as long as you are engaged in the business for which the mark was granted and as long as brand itself is in use.)
- A registered trademark is an intellectual property which the applicant owns. The applicant can either be a company, partnership or an individual.
- Upon having secured your trademark, you can prevent others from using it and also make money from the brand by licensing it.
DIY: Trademark Availability Search:
Trademark availability searches let you know if your trademark is available for registration, so you can plan accordingly. The search also lets you know if an application is made in respect of the same brand name or a similar brand name along the details of the person/company making such application for registration of trademark. Law firms and consultants typically charge a hefty fee to run a trademark availability search. For a startup it makes sense to save on the unnecessary expenses and do it themselves.
Following is the link where you can run a search to check if a “brand name” has been trademarked by someone. http://ipindiaonline.gov.in/tmrpublicsearch/frmmain.aspx
Directions for use:
Make sure your proposed brand name isn’t included in the ‘Prohibited Marks’ list or the ‘Well Known Marks’ list. Entries in either of the lists are beyond the scope of trademark protection in India by law. Avoid using them in your brand name.
In row titled ‘Workmark’, change the option from ‘Start With‘ to ‘Contains‘ in the drop down menu and in the box next to it enter the text you wish to search for.
Trademarks are granted in specific classes. Choose the appropriate class based on which description in the list [click here] your brand fits best. You could make a list of relevant class numbers if multiple classes appear to be relevant or if your business spans across multiple classes.
Enter the appropriate class number in the row titled ‘Class‘.
You should now be directed to a webpage with a list the closest brand names and their details. Going through the list you will come to know if there is another business which uses the same brand name or a similar brand name in the same business.
Repeat the process using multiple class numbers (from the list of relevant class numbers you made in Step 3) to be sure you’ve checked all possibly relevant business classes.
Once you’re certain that your brand name is available for trademark registration, you can finalize the name, font, logo and tag line (if any) and rush to a Trademark agent to get your trademark registered and your brand name secured.
Disclaimer: This is a guest post. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamwire and the editor(s).
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