A trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual or an organization to identify their goods or services from those of others. Trademarks can be words, phrases, symbols, designs, or a combination of these elements.
Trademarks are indispensable for establishing brand identity and are crucial for entities. In India, as well as globally, entities are increasingly focused on protecting their trademarks and brand names. The trademark landscape in India is evolving, prompting individuals and organizations to go to great lengths to safeguard their goods from imitation.
Before 1940, India lacked statutory trademark laws, relying on common law principles of equity and passing off to protect trademarks.
The Trademark Act of 1940 was enacted as the first statutory law in India for trademark registration and protection. It aligned closely with English laws and precedents.
Due to increasing trade and commerce, the Trade & Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 replaced the Trademark Act of 1940. It aimed to enhance trademark protection and consolidate provisions from other statutes.
To comply with Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and accommodate globalization, the Trademark Act, 1999, and Trademark Rules, 2002 were introduced. These regulations became effective on September 15, 2003, and introduced provisions for service trademarks, well-known marks, and the establishment of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).
The Trademark (Amendment) Act, 2010 incorporated provisions related to international trademark registration under the Madrid Protocol. This amendment expanded the scope of Indian trademark law to cover both national and international registrations.
Presently, the primary legislation governing trademarks in India is the Trademark Act, 1999, along with the Trademark Rules, 2017. These regulations outline the procedural aspects of trademark filing, examination, publication, opposition, registration, renewal, rectification, and removal. The Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks (CGPDTM), operating under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, oversees the trademark system in India.
Trademark registration involves a step-by-step process that encompasses various stages, each with its own procedural requirements and documentation. The key stages include: