Today, the name of a brand is more important than you may think. It’s not just a label, it is an identity. Yet, how does one ensure that the brand identity remains unique and is protected from infringement? The answer is online trademark registration. Through this article, let’s dive deep into the legal aspects of brand name registration, understanding its importance, and the step-by-step guide on how to secure it.
Significance of Brand Name Registration
A brand name is the bedrock of a company’s marketing tactics. The brand name registration process not only provides an exclusive right to use the mark but also protects it from unauthorized usage by competitors or entities with malicious intents. Brand name registration not only implies authenticity but also increases the trust of all potential stakeholders in your brand. This leads to brand loyalty and long-lasting customer relationships.
Choosing a Strong and Distinctive Brand Name
A strong brand name is imprinted in the minds of your clientele for all of eternity. For example, McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc. are brand names that are universally ingrained in the minds of the public at large. The reason behind this popularity isn’t just in the products, but also in the way they create and promote their brands and brand names. The ideal name for a business must include the following three factors:
- Originality; and
- Relevance to the business activity.
Further, the Indian trademarks registry also gives you a chance to conduct a trademark search to avoid applying for trademark registration.
The Trademark Classification System and Defining Your Scope
There is a universally accepted NICE Classification of trademarks, which is applicable in India. According to this NICE Classification of the trademarks, the goods and services are divided into different categories, which helps in defining the scope of protection over trademark registration. When you apply for registration, you get protection for your trademark only in the applicable trademark class. Hence, when you register your brand name, it is important to have a clear idea of the trademark classes. The NICE classification has 45 classes, the first thirty-four of which apply to the manufacturer of goods and the rest applicable to service providers. This helps in defining the scope of the protection of brand names.
Step-by-Step Guide to Brand Name Registration
The process of trademark registration begins once you select your appropriate brand name and the class applicable to it. The following are all the steps that you need to follow as a part of your brand name protection journey:
- Filing TM – A application;
- Examination of the mark;
- Issuance of examination report;
- Reply to Examination report;
- Show Cause Hearing of the mark;
- Acceptance and Advertisement;
- Opposition to Application;
- Registration/ Refusal of the mark.
The most important aspect common to all these steps is the fact that these actions are time-bound. If you fail to act according to the given timeline for all actions, you might lose your ™ protection as your mark will be abandoned.
Benefits and Legal Rights of Registered Trademarks
The primary reason why people opt for trademark registration is the fact that you get an exclusive right to use your mark about your goods and services. This gives you an upper hand over your competition. Further, the protection is not over just the exact similarity of marks, but also if two marks are such that it might deceive the general public, then also you get protection as a trademark owner. The owners of registered trademarks can protect their rights by taking legal actions such as sending a cease and desist notice, filing a civil suit for infringement, filing a criminal suit, requesting the destruction of the infringing properties, and more.
International Considerations: Protecting Your Brand Globally
Today, conducting business globally is in trend because of the technological development we’ve had in recent years. Being able to make your business global sounds exciting but it also increases the risk involved. Hence, it is important to get international protection over your trademark once you secure the domestic registration. There are two ways through which you can seek international TM protection:
- Through filing separate applications in each country of choice; and
- Getting protection in multiple countries by filing one application through the MADRID protocol.
Enforcing Your Brand’s Legal Rights: Trademark Infringement and Enforcement:
When you opt for trademark registration, don’t think that your job is done once you receive a registration certificate. To enforce all the legal rights you earn from this registration, you will have to take active steps in protecting your brand post-TM registration. These are the measures you can take to protect your brand name post-registration:
- Keep a check on the similar marks;
- Tracking movements of direct competition;
- Trademark Monitoring;
- Sending out notices as soon as you see infringement;
- Taking legal action; and
- Spreading awareness about IP protection amongst employees.
In this competitive business world, your brand name is an asset worth protecting. When you understand the legal aspects of how to register a trademark in India, it becomes very easy to ensure that your business’s identity remains unique and distinctive in your growth journey.