by September 12, 2002 0 comments



A trademark is any word (Intel, Microsoft), name (Giorgio Armani), symbol (a
logo), device (the Windows frames), slogan (This way in! Where do you want to go
today?), package design (Coca-Cola bottle) or a combination of these. It’s a
mark that identifies and distinguishes a specific product from others in the
market place (trade). Even a sound (the Microsoft chimes) or a colour
combination can be a trademark under some circumstances. 

Technically, a trademark is a visual symbol in the form of a word, device or
a label applied to goods to indicate to a purchaser that that good is
manufactured or dealt in by a particular person, as distinguished from similar
goods manufactured or dealt in by other persons. As the owner of a trademark,
you have the exclusive right to use it to identify your goods or services, or to
authorise another, by means of a license, to use it in return for payment.
Proper use of a trademark is essential for its continued protection. Companies
must properly use their trademarks to aid the consumers who depend upon them and
to prevent a trademark from becoming generic. 

In a larger sense, trademarks promote initiative and enterprise worldwide by
rewarding the owners of trademarks with recognition and financial profit.
Trademark protection also hinders the efforts of unfair competitors, such as
counterfeiters, to use similar distinctive signs to market inferior or different
products or services. The system enables people with skill and enterprise to
produce and market goods and services in the fairest possible conditions,
thereby facilitating international trade.

Validity of a trademark
The period under Indian law is seven years, proposed to be increased to ten
under the new Trademarks Act. But a trademark can be renewed indefinitely beyond
the time limit on payment of additional fees. Trademark protection is enforced
by the courts, which in most systems have the authority to block trademark
infringement.

Trade name vs trademark
A trade name is used to identify a company or a business and serves as the
name of the company or a business. In contrast, a trademark or service mark,
identifies the source of the products or services that the company or business
provides. However, a trade name can also function as a trademark or service mark
depending upon the context in which it is used. If a trade name is used as more
than just the company name and informs consumers where a product or service is
coming from, then it is being used as a trademark.

What trademarks can be registered?
The possibilities are almost limitless. Trademarks may be one or a
combination of words, letters, and numerals. They may consist of drawings,
symbols, three-dimensional signs (such as the shape and packaging of goods),
audible signs (such as music or vocal sounds), fragrances, or colours used as
distinguishing features.

In addition to trademarks identifying the commercial source of goods or
services, several other categories of marks exist. Collective marks are owned by
an association whose members use them to identify themselves with a level of
quality and other requirements set by the association. Examples of such
associations would be those representing accountants, engineers, or architects.
Certification marks are given for compliance with defined standards, but are not
confined to any membership. They may be granted to anyone who can certify that
the products involved meet certain established standards. The internationally
accepted ISO 9000 quality standards are an example of such widely-recognised
certifications.

Trademarks Registry: Jurisdiction and Offices

The head office of the Trademarks Registry is in Mumbai and its branches are in Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai and
Ahmedabad. The territorial jurisdiction of the offices is as follows.

Mumbai
Jurisdiction
: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Goa
Contact: Joint Registrar of Trade Marks, Mumbai Registry Office, Central Building, M Karve Road, Mumbai 400020. Tel: 022-2017368, 2864125, 208995, 2013700. Fax: 2013694. E-mail:
tmrmum@bom5.vsnl.net.in 

Ahmedabad
Jurisdiction:
Gujarat, Rajasthan and the Union Territories of Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli 
Contact: Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks, Office of the Trade Marks Registry at Ahmedabad, National Chambers, 15/27, 1st floor, Ashram road, Ahmedabad 380009. Tel: 6580567, 6587193. Fax: 079-6586763. E-mail:
root@tmrbguj.guj.nic.in 
or tmrahm@ad1.vsnl.net.in 

Kolkata
Jurisdiction:
Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Contact:
Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks, Office of the Trade Marks Registry at Kolkata, 1st floor, 15/1, Chowringhee Square, Kolkata 700069. Tel: 033-2482738, 2482840. Fax: 033-2482738. E-mail:
tmrcalbr@wb.nic.in  or tmrcalbr@cal2.vsnl.net.in 

Delhi
Jurisdiction:
Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal
Pradesh, Delhi and the Union Territory of Chandigarh
Contact: Deputy Registrar of Trade Marks, Office of the Trade Marks Registry at New Delhi, Okhla Industrial Estate, New Delhi 110020. Tel: 6310184, 6312045. Fax: 6310184. E-mail:
tmrd@hub.nic.in or tmrdel@ndf.vsnl.net.in 

Chennai
Jurisdiction:
Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and the Union Territories of Pondicherry and Lakshdweep
Contact:
Deputy Registrar of Trade Marks, Office of the Trade Marks Registry at
Chennai, Rajaji Bhavan, 2nd floor, “D” wing, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090. Tel: 044-4902791, 4902789. Fax: 4902787. E-mail:
tmrchebr@tn.nic.in  or tmrchebr@md3.vsnl.net.in 

How to register a trademark
First, an application for the registration of a trademark must be filed with
the Trademarks Registry. The application must contain a clear reproduction of
the sign filed for registration, including any colours, forms, or
three-dimensional features. The application must also contain a list of goods or
services to which the sign would apply. The sign must fulfil certain conditions
in order to be protected as a trademark or other type of mark. It must be
distinctive, so that consumers can distinguish it as identifying a particular
product, as well as from other trademarks identifying other products. It must
neither mislead nor deceive customers or violate public order or morality.

Finally, the rights applied for cannot be the same as, or similar to, rights
already granted to another trademark owner. This may be determined through
search and examination by the Trademarks registry, or by the opposition of third
parties who claim similar or identical rights.

How extensive is trademark protection?
Almost all countries in the world register and protect trademarks. Each
national or regional office maintains a Register of Trademarks, which contains
full application information on all registrations and renewals, facilitating
examination, search and potential opposition by third parties. The effects of
such a registration are, however, limited to the country (or, in the case of a
regional registration, countries) concerned.

Rodney D Ryder  is a lawyer with Anand and
Anand.

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