What is a trademark?
The Trademark Act, 1999 under Section 2 (zb) defines “trade mark” as a mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others and may include shape of goods, their packaging and combination of colors. For example, Google, Apple, Raymond, Microsoft etc.
What kinds of trademarks can be registered?
Fanciful, suggestive and arbitrary trademarks are generally the strongest trademarks entitle for registration. For example, Thumps Up, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Jaguar, Apple, etc.
Whereas, descriptive and generic trademarks are considered to be very week and not protectable trademarks as per the trademark Acts and Rules. For example, a mark which describes goods or services and the mark which has general or common words. In addition, several other trademark categories are also exist. For example, Collective marks that are owned by an association. The members of the association will use those marks to indicate products with a certain level of quality. Certification marks that are given for compliance with certain standards.
How is a trademark registered?
The trademark registration needs to be filed with the national or regional trademark office. The application needs to be filled with name and address, legal status of the applicant along with the word or logo or device mark including any colors, forms or three-dimensional features. It should also contain a list of the goods or services for which the trademark to be filed. The mark must fulfill certain conditions in order to be protected as a trademark. It should be distinctive from others, so that consumers or customers can distinguish it from trademarks identifying other goods or services. The mark should not mislead or deceive the customers that violate public order or morality. Further, the mark applied for registration cannot be the same as, or similar to, rights already granted to another trademark holder.
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 containing full application information on all registrations and renewals, which facilitates examination, search and potential opposition by third parties. The effects of the registration are, however, limited to the country (or, in the case of regional registration, countries) concerned. To avoid the need to register separate applications with each national or regional office, WIPO administers an international registration system for trademarks. The system is governed by two treaties: the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks and the Madrid Protocol.
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