We often see a phrase written on the backside of the product that says: “is a registered trademark”. What does it mean? From a mosquito spray to a burger box to a toiletry packaging to a packet of butter, it’s written on nearly all the things that we consume in our daily lives. It basically means that the company has the sole right to use the name or any other feature of the product. To simplify it further we need to understand the term “trademark” first.
What is Trademarks?
Trademark is a mark, symbol, figure, name, letter, or word that is created or adopted by a manufacturer, merchant, or company for using it to designate specific products or goods and to distinguish those products from similar products manufactured or sold by others. A trademark is usually registered by the Trademark Office to assure the Patent and its exclusive use only by its owner or licensee.
Trademark is any unique mark that is used to identify things and even services. It should be a mark that has the potential to represent itself graphically. There are a number of things that are covered by the word "mark". For an instance, a mark can be a name, heading, label, letter, word, number, signature, shape, color, sound and even scent. Any of these things can be registered as a trademark if it qualifies the conditions necessary for the registration.
The Utility of Trademarks
Trademarks primarily exclude others from copying the identity of other products. If all insecticides would be calling themselves “Mortein” or replicate its packaging and color then nobody would identify the real Mortein and it wouldn’t be a bad thing only for the company but also for the consumers. So Trademarks protect both the consumers as well as the owners.
Registration of Trademark
An owner can’t claim a trademark until they get it registered. The duration of registration is normally 10 years with infinite renewals. This duration is as per the international principles acquired from the TRIPS Agreement, which is signed by all the WTO members.
Process of Registration of Trademark
The application of trademark registration goes through the following sections of a trademark registration office:
- Index section
- Examination section
- Order section
- Journal section
- Opposition section
- Registration section
- Record section- Which deals with the post registration formalities and the renewal procedure.
Grounds for refusal of trademark registration
All marks are not registrable. A trademark can be refused for being registered if it’s not distinct and unique or if it’s a shape which is the result of the nature of the good, for example the shape of a shaver cannot be trademarked because to have a shaver performing its function its natural shape is inevitable. Finally trademarks whose application is intended in bad faith or to deceive others or that are against any religious beliefs or the principles or morality are not qualified to be registered.
Infringement of a registered trademark
If a person has a trademark registered with respect of any product or service and they find out that there’s somebody who is infringing it by exploiting it in any illegal and prohibited medium then they can claim an action against the infringer in Court and can even claim damages for the inconvenience caused.
Examples of Trademarks:
For better understanding, let’s have a look at a few of the most renowned trademarks that are:
- Coca Cola
- Kit Kat
Read more: Concept of Copyright
- Trademarks might seem to be a modern business practice but the idea of trademark was practiced even in the Roman Empire.
- Sword blacksmiths of the Roman Empire used to mark their unique style of swords with a symbol that symbolized the maker or blacksmith of that sword.
- King Henry and the parliament of England passed the first trademark legislation in 1266 for a bakery manufacturer.
- A trademark is different from a copyright which is a patent for a literary work.
- A trademark is not synonymous to patent because patent is an umbrella term that is for protecting any kind of invention.