[Editorial notes : Guest article contributed by Nitin Purswani, the founder of Zepo Technologies, a DIY portal to setup up an e-commerce website.]
How many cups of coffee and scribbles on a paper did it take for you to zero-in on your brand name? A dozen, right? Would you let some Tom, Dick or Harry walk away with that name and identity? Hell no! So to your rescue is trademark registration!
As an ecommerce platform helping small as well as big brands start their own online stores, we at Zepo, frequently come across entrepreneurs asking us about how to register their brands as trademarks. Which is why, today, within the course of this blog post, we’ll take you through on how to protect your brand’s reputation, by way of registering your brand as a trade-mark.
Before we start, what exactly does trade-marking a brand name mean?
Trademark registration of a brand name means nothing but brand name registration. It basically means, “this brand name is ours! And if you dare to use it to sell your products, we can sue you!”
In India, you can trademark any of the following or even a combination of these things:
Letter, Number, Word, Phrase, Logo, Graphic, Smell, Sound Mark or a Combination of Colors
So, what is the procedure of registering a trademark?
Step 1: Search for a “crazy-enough” brand name
You get the point, don’t you? Come up with a whacky and quirky brand name, because all the generic ones are any which way taken. Before zeroing in on one name, you might want to do a quick search to make sure that no one else is already using the name. And your best bet would be to use invented or coined words, in a combination with generic words.
Step 2: Making the trademark application
Now that your name is finalized upon, fill in the trademark application i.e. Form- TM 1. The application costs INR 3500 and is a one time fee.
Along with the application, you will need to submit a couple of supporting documents:
- A Business registration concern: Depending on what type of a registered business you have, say sole proprietorship, etc. you will need to submit an identity proof of the directors of the company and an address proof.
- An image of your brand logo in a standard size of 9 x 5 cms
- If applicable, proof of claim of the proposed mark being used before in another country.
Step 3: Filling the brand name registration application
There are 2 ways to file the registration – manual filing or e-filling.
In case of manual filing, you will need to personally walk down and submit the application for registration to any one of the offices of the Registrar of Trade Marks located in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahmedabad. After which you receive the acknowledgement of the application and the receipt, usually within 15-20 days of the filing.
But in e-filing system, the acknowledgement of the application is issued immediately.
And after you receive the acknowledgement, you can start using the (TM) symbol next to the brand name!
Step 4: Examining the brand name registration application
After receiving the application, the Registrar checks whether the brand name complies with the law and does not conflict or dispute with other existing registered or pending brands. That’s why we said, quirky brand name, people!
Step 5: Publication in the Indian Trade Mark Journals
After examination, the logo or brand name is published in the Indian Trade Mark Journal. If no one raises an opposition within 3 months i.e. 90 days or in some cases 120 days, from the date of publication, the brand name proceeds to acceptance.
Step 6: Issuance of the trademark registration certificate
If no one raises any opposition, within the stipulated 90 days period, the Registrar accepts the trademark application! Woohoo! And issues a Certificate of Registration under the seal of Trademark Registry.
You may now be allowed to use the registered trademark symbol (®) next to your brand name, once the certificate has been issued.
The whole process of registration of a brand name usually takes anything between 15-18 months. The trademark once accepted, is valid for a period of 10 years from the date of issuance of the Certificate of Registration. After the end of 10 years, the trademark will need to be renewed.
There there! We can understand if this sounds a little too over-whelming. In which case, just call up a lawyer. 🙂 The lawyer will be able to help you wade through all this legal jargon.
Although the process of registering a trademark is lengthy and a little heavy on the pocket, it is definitely worth the investment of legally protecting your brand.
However, if you are just starting out, investing in a trademark may not be absolutely essential. What matters most is creating awesome products and putting in all the time and effort into building your brand, from ground up. But, there still is another cheaper alternative to lend you lawful protection against being copied – an unregistered trademark. Do ask your lawyer about it!
Have any questions about trademark registration? Please feel free to drop in a line in the comments below, and we’ll have a discussion.
- How to Get Your Trademark Registered in India [Step-by-Step Guide]
- How To Select A Good Brand Name [From Trademark Perspective]?
- Trademarks registration in India – The Entrepreneur’s Guide
Recommended Resources: Legal Resources for Startups