Trademark registration is a must for any serious business. It makes the company legitimate, trustworthy, and most importantly secure from intellectual property theft. We all have a basic understanding of the importance of trademark registration, but more often than not, most business owners aren’t aware of the process of registering a trademark for their company.
But worry not, this article will clear any doubts you may have about the subject, and also provide you with an easy-to-learn step-by-step process for the same.
Small business owners can face challenges such as competition from larger companies, lack of brand recognition, and legal disputes.
By registering their trademark, business owners can establish legal ownership of their brand, protect their intellectual property, and build credibility with customers. This is especially important for startups and small businesses without established reputations.
Overall, trademark registration is a vital tool for small business owners looking to protect their brand, build their reputation, and succeed in today’s competitive market.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of registering your trademark in India and help you protect your brand from any infringement.
What Is Trademark Registration In India?
Surprisingly, trademark registration isn’t a privilege that Indian businesses have always had. In India, trademarks are registered under the Trademarks Act, of 1999, which provides legal protection to businesses against any unauthorized use of their trademark. This doesn’t mean that businesses before 1999 were not protected by copyright.
Before the Trademarks Act, of 1999 came into force in India, trademark protection was governed by the Trade Marks Act, of 1958. Under this Act, the trademark registration system was not as robust as it is now, and copyright issues were much more common than now.
Trademark Registration Procedure India
Trademarks, in essence, are one-of-a-kind symbols utilized to distinguish a company’s products or services. They may take the form of a symbol, image, icon, or even a catchphrase. Why are they crucial, you may ask? Well, for starters, they set your products apart from the rest of the pack. Additionally, they serve as a direct representation of your brand or product.
Unlike patents, trademarks have an indefinite lifespan. While patents expire after 20 years, trademark registration is valid for 10 years from the registration date. However, unlike patents, trademarks can be renewed repeatedly for another 10-year term, ad infinitum.
In other words, If you keep renewing the trademark, it will stay protected by the law. This makes the trademark a really important thing to have because it helps keep your brand safe and relevant for a long time.
So, whether you’re trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace or establish a stronger brand identity, trademarks are an invaluable asset.
Who Can Register Trademark In India?
The trademark registration process can be a thrilling journey for individuals, freelancers, companies, and LLPs alike! Yes, whether you’re a one-person show or a booming corporation, anyone can take the leap and file a trademark application without any bias towards entity type. Once the application is filed, the person listed as the applicant will be bestowed with the prestigious title of trademark owner upon successful registration.
Here are the crucial steps to follow to ensure a smooth trademark registration in India:
Step 1: Conducting A Trademark Search for Your Brand
Many business owners don’t realize how important it is to check if their brand name is already being used. Just because you have a cool name doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t thought of it too.
Engaging in a comprehensive trademark search helps you determine if there are any similar trademarks already in use, and also provides you with an accurate idea of your trademark’s status. Additionally, it can even offer a heads-up on potential legal disputes down the line.
Why bother wasting precious time and money in costly trademark litigation when you can avoid it altogether by being proactive?
If you want to tackle this problem effortlessly, read our guide on trademark search in India and sway away from any potential legal disputes.
Step 2: Filing Trademark Application
Once you’ve got a killer brand name or logo in mind, it’s time to do your due diligence and make sure it’s not already taken in the Trademark Registry India. Once you’ve given it the green light, it’s time to get cracking and register that bad boy. Step one? Filing a trademark application with the Trademark Registry India.
To begin the process, you’ll need to obtain Form TM-A. Whether you decide to file your application online via the official IP India website or by visiting the Trade Marks Office in person will depend on the jurisdiction of your trademark. As soon as you hit that “submit” button, you’re free to sprinkle some (™) magic on your product with the superscript mark.
The trademark department will carefully review your application for any issues. If there are no problems, your application will move forward to the examination stage. But if there are any inconsistencies, you’ll need to clarify them before resubmitting. And remember, staying in the know is key! Keep tabs on your trademark status, so you can see where you stand at any given moment.
Step 3: Examination Of Your Trademark Application
Once the application is filed, a sharp-eyed examiner scours through it for any discrepancies. This examination process is not for the impatient, as it could take up to a year and a half to complete. The examiner’s verdict could be one of three: unconditional acceptance, conditional acceptance, or rejection. If the trademark is accepted unconditionally, it is time to party! The trademark is announced in the Trademark Journal, and the world can now see and recognize your unique brand.
However, if there are any conditions to be met or objections raised, the examiner will include them in a detailed examination report. Fear not, as you will have a month to fulfill the conditions or respond to the objections. Once you’ve submitted your response, the waiting game continues.
You can request a hearing, where the examiner will reconsider the trademark’s registration. And if the examiner gives the green light, your trademark will finally have its moment in the sun, featured in the Trademark Journal for all to see.
Eligibility For ₹9000-₹10,000 Fees
If your enterprise falls outside the scope of a startup or small business or an individual, you will be classified under this category. The e-filing fee for the form is INR 9,000, whereas if you prefer to file the form in person at the Office of Trade Marks, it will cost you INR 10,000. This applies to all established businesses.
Visit the official trademark registry website for detailed eligibility information.
Eligibility For ₹4500-₹5000 Fees
If you fall under this bracket of small business, start-up, or an individual (freelancer), then this is the fee section for you. The e-filing charge for the form is Rs. 4,500, or Rs. 5,000 if you prefer the physical route.
Now, here’s the deal: you don’t want to mess up when filling out the form. Even the slightest error can lead to delays or, even worse, rejection of your application. So, take your time and make sure to provide accurate information. Additionally, don’t forget to include a snazzy trademark picture with dimensions of 9 by 5 cm. Also, make five copies of that picture while you’re at it. Once you have all the necessary paperwork, submit the complete file with two copies.
Filing can be done either online or through an agent, whichever is most convenient for you. And, if you file online, you’ll receive immediate confirmation. Physical filings may take a bit longer, up to 15-20 days.
Step 4: Publication Of Trademark To Invite Disputes
The trademark will be publicly advertised and published in the Trade Marks Journal for 4 months. The reason behind this publicity campaign is to give the general public a chance to speak up if they have any objections to the trademark’s registration. This opposition application is done using Form TM-O.
If there are no objections within 3-4 months of publication, the trademark moves forward with the registration process. However, if the opposition is raised, the Registrar will conduct a fair hearing and make a decision accordingly.
Finally, after applying for trademark registration and it gets published in the Trademark Journal, the Trademark Office will issue a registration certificate with their official seal. This certificate confirms that your trademark is officially registered and protected by law. It’s like a birth certificate for your brand!
Step 5: Renewal Of Your Trademark
This is more of an honorary step. After a decade has passed, it’s possible to renew the trademark without any time limit. As a result, the registration of your brand name or logo can be preserved indefinitely.
From what has been stated above, the process of registering a trademark in India is not a laborious task. Although it is a straightforward process, it is still highly critical for registering a brand name.
It can take up to 6 to 12 months to complete the entire brand name registration process. If a brand name is approved for trademark registration, it will be considered valid for an indefinite period as long as the registered trademark is renewed on time. It is necessary to renew the application for a registered trademark every ten years to ensure that it remains in force.
Small business owners can protect their brand, establish legal ownership, and build customer confidence by registering for a trademark. It is essential to register a trademark to lay claim to one’s name, logo, slogan, or signature mark and differentiate one’s goods and services in a dynamic market.
Overall, registering for a trademark is an indispensable asset for small business owners striving to succeed in today’s fiercely competitive market and safeguard their brand from any infringement.
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