What is Trademark Protection?
Trademarks are another way of protecting the Intellectual Property. Trademarks are generally provided for the protection of a sign, expression or a design. Trademark is a protection which is provided with a sign, name or logo of an organization or can also be given to a certain product or services of a particular source. The protection helps in recognizing sign/expression or making it one of its kinds in a unique manner. The protection of a trademark is performed for protecting the reputation established by an organization or many organizations in the market. Various infringing parties launch products in the market with the same name as that of an already launched product belonging to a reputed organization.
Therefore, the organizations seek trademark protection for deterring other parties from infringing the name or sign of their products. The logos of a car manufacturing company AUDI or a shoe manufacturing company NIKE are examples of trademarks. No other company is allowed to use the same logo if protected under the trademark law. The basic purpose of a trademark is to avoid consumer confusion. Consumers usually look at a trademark and associate some properties related to it. Trademarks impart an identity to a product or organization. For example, a person goes to a mobile phone market and witnesses the logo of the company Apple on a mobile phone. He/she immediately associates some properties like its quality, its price or its battery power in his/her mind about the mobile phone just by seeing the logo. There are various definitions associated with the Trademark. Some of these definitions are given below.
The Trade Marks Act of India defines a Trademark as, “Trademark means 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 the shape of goods, their packaging and combination of colours.” A mark can include a brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral, shape of goods, packaging or combination of colors or any such combinations.
A trademark is a distinctive design, graphics, logo, symbols, words, or any combination thereof that uniquely identifies a firm and/or its goods or services, guarantees the item’s genuineness, and gives its owner the legal rights to prevent the trademark’s unauthorized use.
A trademark is represented by a trademark symbol provided by the Intellectual Property Office after the successful registration of the trademark. A trademark symbol is designated by ® (the circled capital letter R) or ™. The symbol ® notifies that the preceding word is a registered trademark or service mark registered with a trademark office. The symbol ™ notifies that the preceding word is an unregistered trademark and does not guarantee protection under the trademark law.
The World Intellectual Property Organization defines trademark as a distinctive sign which identifies certain goods or services as those produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise. Its origin dates back to ancient times when craftsmen reproduced their signatures or marks on their artistic or utilitarian products. Over the years these marks evolved into today’s system of trademark registration and protection. This system helps consumers identify and purchase a product or service because of its nature and quality indicated by its unique trademark.
Trademarks are valuable business assets. The protection of a trademark provides trademark rights and enables the owner of the trademark to prevent others from copying or taking advantage of the goodwill in the owner’s brand or company name.
Trademark protection may be provided to-
Fanciful Marks– coined (made-up) words that have no relation to the goods being described (e.g., EXXON for petroleum products).
Arbitrary Marks– existing words that contribute no meaning to the goods being described (e.g., APPLE for computers).
Suggestive Marks– words that suggest meaning or relation but that do not describe the goods themselves (e.g., COPPERTONE for suntan lotion).
Descriptive Marks– marks that describe either the goods or a characteristic of the goods. Often it is very difficult to enforce trademark rights for descriptive marks unless the mark has acquired a secondary meaning (e.g., SHORELAND for a shoe store).
Generic Terms– words that are the accepted and recognized description of a class of goods or services (e.g., computer software, facial tissue).