BASICS OF TRADEMARKS

Trademarks have a specific purpose of creating a special identity for a company or a product. This identity is usually created by the use of symbols, words, logos or a combination of all of the aforementioned. The main purpose is to create an identity that is capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one person from those of others. The mark is not limited to logos, but may also include labeling, signature, shape of goods, packaging, or a combination of colors or any other combination. Trademark is an essential part of the current marketplace, with the growing competition, every company wants to create a distinct identity that helps its customers identify and distinguish their products from the competitors. This not only helps to create an individual identity for the product but also, helps to create goodwill in the market.

The trademark becomes the brand identity of the goods and services that the company sells. It not only helps to identify the goods and services, but it also provides a safeguard from competitors or hoax companies from selling identical products. As it is easy to identify a trademark, it also helps the company from losing potential customers as they are easily distinguishable and have a separate identity from their competitors.

The statutory provisions safeguarding the trademarks in India are as per the Trademark Act, 1999. The law deals with the mechanism of registering, protecting and preventing fraudulent trademarks. The law expands on the rights acquired by registration of a trademark, nature of infringements, penalties, and remedies that are available for a registered trademark.

IS REGISTRATION MANDATORY?

It is not mandatory to register a trademark. An “unregistered trademark” does not possess the same benefits as a registered trademark. Section 27 of the Trademarks Act, 1999, does entitle any action for infringement on an unregistered trademark, but it can still be protected under the law of tort. To succeed in such a case, the party needs to establish that the unregistered trademark has superior goodwill or reputation with the product or service which is being provided to its customer and that the other party has malicious and deceptive plans to use the plaintiff’s trademark for his profits.

BENEFITS OF REGISTERED TRADEMARKS

A “registered trademark” confers exclusive rights upon the registered owner of the trademark, these rights include the right to exclusive use of the mark in relation to its goods or services. A Trademark is registered for 10 years and can be renewed. Chapter 4 of the Trademarks Act, 1999 deals with the registration of a Trademark. Section 27 provides that action for infringement lies with a registered party, where the aggrieved may seek civil or criminal reliefs. Certain benefits are provided to a registered party which are as follows:

•    Guards commercial goodwill of a trader.

•    Protects the customers from buying second-grade quality goods.

•    The infringement of a registered trademark can lead to legal suits, while the burden of proof of the plaintiff is eased by registration.

•    Easily differentiates products.

CONCLUSION

Trademarks have become an essential part of the new marketplace as new brands and products need an individual identity for themselves. This identity helps to create goodwill in the market. If the same is registered the company enjoys benefits such as proof of registration in legal suits, whereas if they do not register they are not entitled to legal remedies under the Trademarks Act, 1999.

– Madhav Singh Bagga

AMITY LAW SCHOOL, NOIDA

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