All you wanted to know about trademarks but didn’t know who to ask
A trademark serves as an identification mark and is often used by brands or companies, so that it can be easily identified from the other brands present in the market. It could either be a logo, design or phrase. In this way, customers can distinguish between various brands and identify the one they’re looking for.
Trademarks are all around us, in the products and services that we consume. For example `Brooke Bond’ is a trademark and so is `Dettol’. Both the products are distinctive and give consumers a good idea of the standard and quality of the product.
Well, it’s not enough to have a trademark. It needs to be registered by the authorities so that it can be used exclusively by the company that owns it and there is no misuse. In India, trademarks have to be registered at the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks.
After understanding what a registered trademark is, here are some basic facts about them, and what they can include:
- Any name (including the first name or surname of the applicant or predecessor in business or the signature of the person).
- An invented word or any arbitrary dictionary word or words, not being directly descriptive of the character or quality of the goods/service.
- Letters or numerals or any combination thereof can be used.
- Devices, including fancy devices or symbols.
- Combination of colors or even a single color in combination with a word or device.
- Shape of goods or their packaging.
- Marks constituting a three-dimensional sign.
- Sound marks when represented in conventional notation or described in words by being graphically represented.
The right to proprietorship of a trademark may be acquired by either registration under the act or by use about particular goods or service.
Benefits of trademarks
The reason why companies register trademarks is that it protects them against misuse. For example, the Dettol trademark is owned by Reckitt Benckiser. The brand has been around for many years and enjoys a good reputation in the market. Over the years, the company has spent a lot of money and resources to reach this stage. So naturally, it would want to secure its marketing standing from someone who could use the trademark and begin selling a fake product.
While understanding trademarks, it is vital to understand the role they play in protecting consumers. Consumers see the trademark as an indicator of a certain standard and quality. When they see a brand like Colgate, for instance, they instantly know what it represents, the product quality it stands for, as well as the reputation of the parent company. Of course, the government also benefits since it gets a fee each time a trademark is registered.
It’s not forever
Another thing to remember about trademarks is that they are not valid for eternity. Trademark protection varies from country to country, but generally, it’s for a period of ten years. Of course, you could keep on renewing it after the end of the 10 years.
A trademark is one of many types of intellectual property protection offered by governments. There are others like copyright, which protects an original work, whether music, art or cinema. Patents offer protection for certain processes or products. It’s essential for consumers and producers to understand what is a trademark since it offers protection to both parties.