Brand Registration: How to Trademark a Brand?

A brand could be a name, logo, domain name, slogan or design which represents the products or services of a company and protects its authenticity. Brand Registration, generally comes under Trademark Registration and involves multiple stages like examination, objection and opposition.

What is a Brand?

A brand is an identifying symbol, mark or logo that a company uses for its products or services. It distinguishes the products or services of a company from the others and gives you a competitive advantage in the market.

For example - Toyota is a popular brand name for Cars by Toyota Motor Corporation.

A popular brand name reinforces the value of your brand in the mind of the consumer even if you distance yourself from the consumers. The brand name of a company instills emotions in the mind of the consumers once they use the products or services.

A brand name can either represent a particular product/service or corporate identity. It depends on the company as to how they wish to market themselves. A brand involves separate registrations like domain, business name, trademark and copyright.

Key Features of a Brand

A brand name is not just about a business name or trademark registration. It has a lot more than this to it. Brand Name Registration provides you with various advantages and helps your business stand out from the others.

Some of its key attributes are –

  • A registered brand name acts as a source identifier.
  • It guarantees brand credibility.
  • The brand name is used as an advertising tool.
  • Helps build brand image in the market.
  • Strengthens brand recall in consumers.

Types of Brand Registrations

Domain Registration

Online presence forms a part of brand recognition which helps the customers to search for your business online. It adds credibility to your business and builds trust with the customers.  You can develop a brand only when you get it registered legally.

Your customers will search for you online and thus it is necessary to maintain its authenticity.  Domain Registration is the initial step in brand registration which involves registration of your domain name so that no other company can use it.

For example – is a domain name registered by the Microsoft Corporation.

Before registering a domain name, you can always check the availability of your domain name on Google Domains.  

Business Name Registration 

It is necessary to register a business name if you wish to establish a brand in the market. Business Name serves as the identity of a company and helps in distinguishing your business from others. It gives you a competitive edge in the market and attracts more customers.

Business Name is reflected on all the legal documents of the company, and it is not essential for the brand or domain name to be exactly similar to the business name. It usually depends on the company as to how they wish to market.

For example – Hindustan Unilever Limited deals in food, cosmetic, cleaning and personal care products and each their products have a brand name different from its business name like Lakme, Fair and Lovely, Pepsodent etc.

An entrepreneur needs to register their business name with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, or you can also search for possible names on the Company Name Search to have a better idea of the names that fit your business needs.

Note: Remember the name you pick up for your company must be distinct and in the context of your business activity.

Trademark Registration

Trademark is a synonym for brand name and ensures that it stays protected and distinct to your business. Trademark registration protects your brand, business name, slogan, logo or design which is why it is important to register your brand name before anyone else does.

You can file the trademark application in more than one class (in case your products/services cover multiple areas). Make sure to always conduct a Trademark Search to know the authenticity of your brand name. 

For example – The brand name Intel is a registered trademark for the company Intel Corporation. 

Copyright Registration 

Copyright is another aspect of protecting your brand in case the logo of your business or company contains any artistic character in it. Copyright Registration protects the artistic and creative works including films and sound recordings.

In case you are thinking to register your logo to ensure that you initiate the required registration. Even if you have already trademarked your logo and believe that the creative aspects need to be protected, then you can also go for copyright registration. 

For example – The logo of Starbucks Corporation is trademarked as well as has copyright protection too. 

Importance of Brand Registration

Well, most of the people do not get into the kind of products or services business markets unless it is famous or at least registered. Fulfilling the legal requirements help your customers to trust your business and its intention.

A brand name is critical to your business identity and gives you a competitive edge in the market. It also protects your brand name to be used by other people without your knowledge. Your products/services gain differentiation in the market and since there are various ways to protect your brand you can choose what fits your business best.

Let’s understand this better.

Suppose if McDonald’s or Pepsi didn’t get their brand names registered or protected it legally, there could have been numerous other companies operating with the same name in the market.

This could have created so much confusion without anyone able to understand which brand originated primarily. I believe now you will understand how important it is to protect your brand in the market.

How to Check Brand Name in India?

It is important to check the brand name which you wish to register before you initiate the process. This will help you to know the distinctiveness of your name and also if there are any similar names to your brand name.

You can easily check the brand name online either on Intellectual Property India (if registering for trademarks) or Ministry of Corporate Affairs (if registering a company name).

Quick Company provides a free trademark search and company name search which uses smart algorithms to search from the legal database and bring out a search report based on the results. 

Note: It is better to proceed for registrations only after conducting a through search.

Brand (Trademark) Registration Process (Step-by-Step)

Step 1: Trademark Filling

Trademark registration can be done in one or multiple classes for the applied mark. The application is to be filed with the Form TM-A which must be in Hindi or English along with the prescribed fee. The trademark office has made it possible to file trademark physically or through the e-filling process available on I.P India.

Documents for Brand Registration in India

  • Form TM-A Comprises complete trademark information
  • Power of Attorney
  • Copy of Logo or Trademark
  • Board Resolution in case of company registration.
  • Description of the Product or Service.

Step 2: Examination Report

Once an application is submitted successfully, the trademark office allows a trademarks examination officer to check if the brand name, logo or the mark meets the specifications listed in the Trademark Act.

Examination report for your application is issued within 3 months. The examination report contains any objection that is raised by the examiner office.

Step 3: Objection

Once a trademark application is assigned a trademark examiner, he assesses the application and checks whether the applied mark complies with the law and does not raise any disputes with existing marks. If the examiner finds anything objectionable in the mark, it is likely that the status of your application will represent status as the object.

The applicant has to reply to the objection with the relevant reasons, facts and evidence that explains why the mark must be registered in favor of the applicant. Such a reply by the applicant needs to be filed along within 1 month of the examination notice.

Step 4: Publication in the Trademarks Journal

After the mark filed is approved by the trademark examiner the application proceeds on to a next stage that is the publication of the mark in the trademark journal. This preview of the mark in the trademark journal provides an opportunity for another trademark owner to file an opposition against registration of the mark.

Step 5: Opposition

The process of trademark opposition begins after the advertisement in the trademark journal. The period for the opposition is 4 months from the date of publication. Any third party can file a notice of opposition with the Trademark Office. Commercial or personal interest in that matter isn’t compulsory for raising opposition. In case the opposition proceedings plausible, the trademark fails to attain trademark registration.

The applicant has to file a counter-statement against the notice of opposition within 60 days of the notice.

Step- 6: Registration

Where the application does not receive any opposition notice after publication the processor has successfully overcome the oppositions, it proceeds further to registration. The Trademarks Office issue the Certificate of Registration as evidence of the owner's rights to the mark.

The trademark obtains protection for your brand for a period 10 years from the date application is filled with IP India site.

Bonus Points

  • Use the brand name to market all your goods/services and if it is a logo you can use it on the product's packaging and banners.
  • The symbol should be clearly and correctly displayed on the company website along with the brand name that is registered.
  • If the brand name (trademark) is not used for a period of 5 years continuously it might get abandoned.

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