Types of Trademark in India

The Trademarks Act, 1999, allows the registration of various types of marks such as product/service mark, collective mark, certification mark and other unconventional marks like series marks, sound marks, colour marks and shape marks.

Despite the varieties of trademarks that can be registered in India, their purpose remains the same - To act as the representation of a business’ ‘trade’. Trademarks are used to identify the source of the products or services that are available in the market.

Example

While there are several types of cola soft drinks, we know which bottle of soft drink is made by the Coca-Cola Company because of the logo that is present on the bottle. 

Broad Classification of Trademarks 

NICE Classification is an international classification of goods and service adopted by several countries, including India, to create a standardized approach for trademark registration. 

Under this, trademarks are classified into various classes based on their nature and use.

  • Product marks

Those names, symbols, shapes, colours, devices or sounds that help identify the products of an organization are classified under Class 1 to Class 34

  • Service Marks

Those names, symbols, shapes, colours, devices or sounds that help identify the services rendered by are classified under Class 35 to c=Class 45. 

1. General Trademarks 

General trademarks are the most common types of trademarks that are registered in India. These refer to any marks that are used to identify the products and services of a trading company or service-providing company. 

Since the company’s core activity and unique feature is the product(s) or service(s) it renders, a company would wish to safeguard all its related brand assets to avoid any duplication, passing-off or counterfeiting in the market.  

A company can own several forms of this intellectual property, which consists of mainly trademarks.

Example

The word Nestle® is a registered trademark, the company also owns the rights to its logo, the names of its products and logos of its products.

Read More: Intellectual Property Law

What can be trademarked? 

Anything mark of a company can be trademarked, as long as it functions as a trademark – that is, to help identify the source of the goods and services. Here is a brief list: 

  • Brand, Product or Service Name

A word mark is a distinct text, (whether in actual letter format or numerical). This relates to the name of the company/product name for the purpose of branding. Thus, it is specifically text-based, unlike a logo that represents a pictorial image.

  • Logos, Symbols and Brand Mascots

A device is a printed/painted figure/design/character. They do not consist of any letters/words/numerals etc. For word marks that are also used as a logo, the trademark would have to be registered both as a word mark and a device marks. In India, the registration for both these aspects can be made in a single application. 

Also Read: How to trademark a Logo?

  • Series Marks

Series of trademarks basically means a number of trademarks which resemble each other as to their material particulars and which differ only as to matters of a non-distinctive character not substantially affecting the identity of the trademark.

  • Brand Colours

The colour combinations become the brand itself and become known by it for that particular product. The public tends to associate the scheme with the specific product.

More: What is a Colour Trademark?

  • Brand Theme Music

Sound marks consist of sound notes that distinguish the products and services of one from the other. The notations of sound that are graphically represented can be registered as trademarks.

  • Product Shape and 3D Marks 

The shape marks can be categorized in Trade Dress wherein, other than the logo, label, and other identifiable symbols; a product can also be distinguished based on its packaging.

More on: What can be trademarked in India?

2. Collective Trademarks 

These marks are linked with a group of people and not one single product or service. These trademarks are primarily owned by an organization, institutes or any association. However, it is primarily used by several members of the said organization. 

Purpose of Collective Marks 

Collective trademarks are "Badges of origin" which indicates the specific source of the individual, his/her products and services. 

  • The Collective marks are used by the members to identify themselves with the level of quality or accuracy
  • Collective marks can also represent a geographical origin or other characteristics set by the organization they are related with.

Requirements of Collective Trademarks 

To get a collective trademark certain regulations are to be fulfilled by specifying the following information:

  • The name and seat of the organization,
  • The complete valid information contact details (name, address, etc.) about the members under that association
  • The conditions of membership are also required to be mentioned,
  • Mentioning the terms & conditions are applicable to using a collective trademark,
  • The prescriptions relating to the control of the use of the collective trademark,
  • The order of proceedings against unauthorized use of the collective trademark.

Examples

A variety of business professionals uses the collective mark provided by the organization the professional belongs to, apart from his/her own business mark. 

For instance, a chartered accountant who has his own private firm can trademark and use his name and logo. Apart from this, he can also use the “CA" device as he is a registered member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. 

3. Certification Mark

The certification mark is created to show a specific quality standard that the company has met. This means that the public will be aware that the trader's goods or services are certified as it has met a particular standard, as defined by the certifying body that owns the certification mark. 

Purpose of Certification Marks 

  • It assures the consumers that the manufacturers have gone through a regular process of the audit to ensure the standard of production
  • The certification mark identifies the origin, material, and most importantly, the quality of the goods and services that separates a particular brand/company from the competitors in the market. 
  • These marks are used to assess the worth of the goods and services.

In brief, Certification marks are used to define "Standard" of goods and services. 

Example

FSSAI - Certification for the quality of packaged food products

Agmark - Certification for agricultural products

Silk Mark – Certification for the authenticity of silk textiles


Also Read: What cannot be protected under trademark law?

4. Geographical Indicators 

A geographical indication is also a type of trademarks that are used on products to show the unique nature, reputation and quality the products possess based on the origin of the products. 

The Geographical Indicators are awarded by the GI Registry and is granted to natural, agricultural, manufactured and handicraft products that come from a specific geographical origin.  

The aim of Geographical indicators

Once a Geographical Indication is registered, it acts as a trademark, disallowing other third parties from using the registered indicator in any means that show that their goods come from a particular geographical location. 

Purpose of Geographical indicators

The Geographical Indications of Goods was recognized in India after the TRIPS agreement was accepted. This led to the establishment of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. The purpose of the GI Act was to: 

  • Protect the interest of the native producers of such unique goods by providing a legal framework
  • Protecting the consumers from deception by unauthorized persons who misuse the geographical indications without maintaining its authenticity. 
  • Promote goods that have an Indian Geographical Indication in the international markets.

Example 

There are several Geographical Indications in India right from Darjeeling Tea to Kanchipuram Silk. Taking the instance of Darjeeling Tea, the Tea Board which ones the GI can prohibit unauthorized manufacturers of tea from using the term ‘Darjeeling’ along with their products. 

5. Convention Marks 

India is part of several international trademarks conventions to ensure a global economy for trademark recognition. 

Once such convention is the Madrid Protocol that is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Under this, trademark protection can be obtained expeditiously in all the contracting countries to maintain trademark protection around the world. 

Therefore, a registered trademark in any other convention country can also be registered in India, claiming the original priority date of the first registered trademark. 

Closing Thoughts

Initially, the existence of the right of a trademark is denoted by TM, which states that the mark is in the process of trademark registration. Once the mark is registered, the right is denoted by the ® symbol to give it recognition in the market. This use of trademark symbols applies to all types of trademarks.


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