In recent times it is very important to protect your brand name as others may commercially disparage your brand. Trademark infringement is very common these days, therefore it is always advisable to take protection of your brand name.
Trademark owner at initial stage and do so much to avoid future litigation or conflicts. The following steps are advisable in order to safeguard the trademark-
Step 1- Do your Research and Search Properly
The selection of a Trademark is one of the most crucial steps for creating an interesting corporate identity or a brand. One should try to have a “Storyboard” with objective reasoning for selecting a particular trademark. At the same time application of mind in selection of brand name is equally important. One should try from the very beginning not to infringe existing trademarks (Even accidentally). Before choosing a brand name one must check whether a similar mark already exists or not. An official trademark is searched on the official website of ipindiaonline.gov.in. Through the website one can easily search for their name and they get to know chances for objections to come on their brand name. This information can prove to be helpful in streamlining the decision to use a particular mark, logo, and/or word as a trademark.
There are marks which are already in use but are not registered, so in this case one has to do proper research and investigation before application of a mark as registration is given on prior use basis.
Step 2- Avoid the use of Descriptive/ Common words as marks
A well known practice in Trademark law is not to use descriptive words/common or generic words in their mark. When one is well aware that “Bag” is a common word and is already in public domain, then using it as a trademark is an act of “Self-sabotage” and must not be adopted.
It is provided that one can use descriptive or common words as a trademark if by their usage it has obtained its distinctiveness by way of long and extensive usage in the market.
Further as a matter of practice in Indian legal fraternity, a trademark owner has a choice of using “CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS” on the use of a particular trademark at the time of filing of a Trademark application. Such practice is common in the United States also where they use “Disclaimers” to waive off any rights in relation to a descriptive part of mark.
In India this process might help in minimization of frivolous litigation.
Follow up and Renewal of the Trademark
A Trademark owner through its attorney, must conduct a thorough follow up routine during the pre-registration stage and check the status page on the Trademark registry website on a constant basis as an ideal process. There could be situations where objections could be raised by trademark registry and accordingly within a specified time its reply is to be filed. Or else there could be a situation where a mark is being accepted and advertised in the journal but is being opposed by the third person, then in that case a counterstatement would be filed in response to Notice of opposition. A routine follow up would help trademark owners to meet deadlines and may eventually help in the registration of the trademark.
The trademark registry grants trademark protection for the period of 10 years and after that it has to be renewed after every 10 years. The Trademark owners therefore must be aware of the deadlines and must file renewal applications on a timely basis. The trademark must be renewed on time to avoid any abandonment claims.
As per Trademark Rules, 2017, Trademark owners can file for its renewal one year before the date of expiration of trademark.
The importance of Intellectual Property rights, especially w.r.t trademarks has evolved over the past few years in India. Hence awareness in this field is of utmost priority. The Trademark owner must be aware of the basic steps that are mentioned above to have a smooth trademark filing process.