How to Do Trademark Registration in India- An Easy Guide
Trademark registration is a process that most businessmen have to undergo at some point in time. In fact, most are unaware of its importance. Imagine spending days or months, coming up with a perfect name for your business and it is used by someone else; who just happened to start their enterprise before you. A trademark certificate is what you need, to legally cover yourself! Let us explore this topic in detail.
What Does Trade-Marking Mean?
Trademark means the legal registration of your brand name, its related symbols, and colors; claiming it as your own. Brand registration allows you to ‘own’ these elements and legally challenge anyone who tries to use your brand to sell your product or create a reputation for themselves out of it. It also covers copy-cats who might use names or symbols which are close to your product but not quite so.
A trade mark can be applied to elements such as sound, logo, colours, words, symbols, phrases, images, initials, or a combination of all these. The following are the key benefits of registering your trademark.
- Business Opportunity: A registered brand helps build a feeling of trust, quality, goodwill & reliability.
- Legal Protection: It gives you an opportunity to protect your brand legally and sue competition that tries to use your logo, tagline, or brand name.
- An Asset- A well-built brand is a commercial asset. Should a businessman choose to sell his business in the future or say an international player with a similar name (not registered in India); wants to make a foray into the country- You can sell your brand name for a price.
Now let’s explore the procedure for trademark registration.
How to Register Your Brand?
Step 1- Searching for a Crazy Enough Brand Name!
Registering a trademark is not so easy in India. Our insider tip is that your name places a huge role in how fast your brand name gets registered. Here are some points to keep in mind while choosing a name.
- Generic names are very difficult to get approved. Especially if they belong to the category under which you are registering. For example, No-Maida is a brand of baked goods trying to register under the trademark class of processed foods. As it contains the generic word Maida, it is very likely this brand will not be passed. A combination word or a made-up word is more likely to be passed. I.e. Brownia
- A quick search on the IP India site helps. You can go through the names under your class of products; see the ones that were objected to. And see the ones which are not yet used.
Step 2: Decide if You Want to Do it Yourself or Outsource
You can opt to file your trademark application yourself. Trade mark application forms and fees are stated here. As is visible, you can file manually or do an e-filing. However, it is advisable that you go through a lawyer. This is useful when you might need to contest for a brand name if it is objected to.
Sometimes, you might be residing in a remote town or you may be a small-scale business. The Registrar of Trademarks is in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Chennai. In this case, it helps to go through an online service provider such as this for the purpose. Such service providers are cost-effective compared to lawyers as they usually have packages for small entrepreneurs. They will help you identify your trademark class.
What is Trademark Classification? Well, you need to categorize your goods & services under a particular trademark class. For example, Trademark Class 16 includes paper, cardboard, and goods made from these materials; plastic materials for packaging, printed matter; typewriters and office requisites; stationery; brushes, etc. You can do a quick search of your class Indiafilings.com. You may want to register under two separate classes. For example, a book could be under Class 9 for electronic publications downloadable and Class 16 for printed publications.
Step 3: Collect Your Documents!
Trademark application work requires the following details.
- Applicant’s name
- Business Type – Meaning whether it’s proprietorship, a private limited company or you are applying as an individual.
- Identity Proof and/or Business Proof: The applicant on whose name the trademark must be registered, must submit a personal identity such as aadhar card, voter’s ID would suffice. However, if it is to be linked to a registered company then relevant registration proofs need to be given. This would include identities of directors, company address, registration certificate etc.
- Brand/logo/tagline (slogan name) – The brand means the chosen brand name in text. However, most lawyers advise getting the whole combination of name, tagline, and logo (image) trademarked.
- Form 48 – This is an affidavit wherein you give the rights to the lawyer or filing company to apply for a trademark on your behalf.
Step 4: Submit Application for Trademark Registration
If your agent (lawyer or service provider) has opted for manual filing, then you may have to wait for 15-20 days for a confirmation. However, nowadays e-filing is the norm and the acknowledgment is immediate. Now here’s the good news. You can immediately start using the brand name for communication purposes by appending the “TM” symbol to it. It denotes that you have submitted your application for trademark registration.
- Upon receiving your application, the application undergoes a process called Vienna Codification where it is sent for codification as per certain international standards.
- Next, the registrar officer will check if the brand name conflicts with an existing name and the law. Mainly it is about disputes with pending or registered brands. Or if your name hurts the sentiments of a certain group of people. As we mentioned above, a quirky, new word helps speed up the process. However, currently, you need to brace up for a waiting period of months- that is standard. If your trademark is objected to, at this step, you may have a hearing before the officer to understand the reasons for rejection. You may appeal against the same.
- The registrar then publishes the brand name or logo in the Indian Trade Mark Journal. This is so that any party that objects to the name, can raise a dispute. The time given for this exercise is 90 to 120 days from the date of publication. If no one objects, we are almost done.
- If someone objects, then your representatives must contest the objection in court.
- Finally, the trade mark certificate is issued to the applicant. The applicant can now add the ® symbol next to his/her brand name.
Understanding the trademark registration process in India is recommended for every businessman. Do note it can take about 15-18 months for approval. Post-approval, the trademark is valid for a period of 10 years. It might seem tedious or difficult, but with a little help from a lawyer, you can get it done very easily.
Special Tips for E-Commerce Sellers
Whether you are trying to register as an Amazon seller or trying to sell on Flipkart; nowadays most e-commerce platforms will ask for brand registration documents as one of the most basic documents. This mainly applies to online sellers who are selling their own brands.
The good news is, you can sell on such sites with your brand name if you have initiated the trademark process (the ™ phase we mentioned above). Marketplaces have processes in place wherein you need to apply for certain exemptions in such cases. For example, on Amazon, you need to apply for a GTIN exemption. Some other sites will ask you for a brand authorization letter.
If planning to create your online website, apart from checking existing trademarks on the IP India site, also cross-check if the domain name, for the name you have chosen is available.
Brand registration gives your product a unique identity- a branded product is easily remembered by customers on online marketplaces like Flipkart, Amazon, Myntra, etc.
You might want to sell a private label, wherein you will repackage existing products and sell them as your own. You might be already manufacturing a product that does not have a brand name of its own.
For example: Sri Laxmi Plastics Pvt. Ltd is a company manufacturing plastic storage containers. The company’s owner now wants to go online via Amazon. However, he knows that a ‘branded’ product will sell more as it gives a perception of quality. So, he chooses to register the brand name “Organiso”. We all know that kitchen jars called Organiso will sell better than Sri Laxmi Plastics or “Generic Kitchen Jars”. In short, owning a brand name does contribute to your e-commerce success.