Trademarks have made their permanent place inseparable from the products and services these days. Though capital investment on the infrastructure facilities, as well as the marketing channels, are the main backbones of the business, which are considered as the real assets of the business, virtual assets are becoming more valuable in the global markets. Managing the assets properly and protecting them from misuse is very important. Protection of property is always important whenever we consider value-based assets.
In the present competitive world, physical assets are important and valuable; over a period of time, these assets create another set of invisible assets known as virtual assets. Put together, the assets value may be many folds compared to investment. The important invisible (non-physical) assets are the brand value and the intellectual properties owned by the company.
As far as technology-based businesses are concerned there are different categories of intellectual properties associated with it. Patents, trademarks, copyrights and industrial designs are the major intellectual properties. Apart from these some of the businesses also have unique value because of the geographical indicator based assets. In the case of biological assets such as different varieties of plants, animals, and microorganisms, registration with appropriate authority is very important to get them protected.
For protecting the above intellectual properties covered under intellectual property rights law, grouped as IP laws under the common civil laws. There are legalized procedures and registration formalities made by the government for encouraging accumulation and protection of these rights. All these protecting legal formalities are encouraging individuals to build assets and take the right steps to protect their ownership by spending discounted fees. Whereas, the companies have to spend a little more to protect their rights. In that way, financially weaker entrepreneurs are also safeguarded. Ultimately all the ownership rights, whether physical or intellectual are safeguarded for building profitable business worldwide.
World Intellectual Property Organization is the foremost in global protection of the intellectual properties in the WTO regime. Free trade and globalized competition make it imperative to protect the businesses along with intellectual properties for long-term sustainability in the markets.
In India, we have intellectual property organizations (IP India) in different locations. Its headquarters is in Mumbai and the other offices are located in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Nagpur. It is also known as a patent office by laymen.
By definition, the trademark is a type of intellectual property consisting of a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others. In this digital era, the virtual domains of the businesses are the websites.
In order to make the identity easier, trademarks and brand names have evolved. Brand names and trademarks are most of the time confused between each other and are used interchangeably. Brand names are just like a nomenclature given to the products or services for marketing. Whereas, trademarks are usually signs or designs combined with text to identify the company owning the brand. A trademark may be given for a single product/service or a group of products manufactured and marketed by the company.
A symbol or image or text alone or collective expression of these compose the trademark. Marks used to represent the identity of the service are called service marks. When these marks are registered in the trademark registry, then it becomes protected and known as a registered trademark. These marks are making a permanent picture in the minds of consumers about the products or services. These marks become an inseparable part of quality products in the minds of the consumers. Over the years, when the business grows, the trademark becomes an easy tool for marketing and to build brand value.
Benefits of Trademarks
- The identification of the business entity is easy with a trademark: Branding in a competitive environment is a plus point for the business. Trademark helps easy branding.
- Authentication of the products and services involves such identification requirements.
- Furthermore, business up-gradation usually involves redoing and formalizing the trademark.
- Streamlining the website, advertisements, branding and trademarks add value to the overall business assets.
- Trademarks are tangible marks for intangible services of service organizations.
Process of Acquiring Trademark
A design drawing easily reproducible and used on the properties of trade is usually used as a trademark. A lot of creativity and psychological thinking is used for the development of these designs. Sometimes traders use slogans or wordings along with design marks for this purpose. Design dimensions, patterns, fonts, colours and other characters associated with the element are properly defined and proportions are spelt out in a clear cut form. Thus, it becomes an unambiguous mark used for trade-related purposes. Several graphic designers and advertisement agencies are offering their services for developing trademarks even in small cities.
Trademark applications are submitted by an individual or a company the intellectual property organization. It includes two parts. First is the TM-1 form filling and the next is a representation copy of the trademark in an 8″ wide paper.
Classification of Trademarks
Trademarks are classified into 45 different categories. These categories are based on the type of industry and trade-related aspects. Before registering the trademark one should understand for which category he has to assign his trademark. There are 34 different classes of products and 11 services for which a trademark can be included for registration. To see a complete list of various classes of trademarks, click this link:
Before going to register the trademark one should ensure that that mark is not already registered or used by somebody.
Trademark search online is helpful for earring this doubt. Here is a link to the IP India website for trademark search: https://ipindiaonline.gov.in/tmrpublicsearch/
Once the trademark is finalized, its owner should start using the trademark.
Registration of Trademark
The owner of the trademark can submit applications online or can send a hard copy by post along with fees. Application fees for companies are INR 10000 and for individuals, it is INR 5000. The online submission of application is a quick process and there is an incentive of 10% discount on fees.
After preliminary scrutiny, if found permissible, the trademark is published in a trademark journal for public viewing. There is a scope for objection, within two months of publication, any public can object its registration with valid reasons. If no objection also, examiners will raise queries based on similar marks or popular aspects related to it. If found suitable with proper justification, the trademark is registered in the Trademark Register. Once registered, it is valid for 20 years worldwide.
Once it is registered it becomes the intellectual property of a business. As the business grows trademark-related branding gains value. Over a while, it becomes a valuable asset of the business.
Illegal copying and forming look alike and sound alike marks have to be vigilantly tackled. If somebody starts doing this they have to be warned and cautioned with legal implications.
Branding Agricultural Technologies
In agriculture, the ICAR-CPCRI is extending its technology services to entrepreneurs under the brand name “Kalpa” which is a registered trademark. In fact, the institute has its own logo, which is also a registered trademark to identify and protect its agricultural services to the farmers. Thus the institute logo and Kalpa trademark form two different faces of the services offered by the institute. The institute also has several technology products, the names of which are also registered as trademarks. Some of the examples include Kalparasa, KeraAM, Kera Probio, Cocoa Probio, etc. Having trademarks of different kinds helps for effective communication of the institute’s services, commercialization and branding activities. In Indian agricultural scenario, well-known trade names of varieties include “Pusa” by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi and “Arka”, by Indian Horticultural Research Institute, Bengaluru.
Other Intellectual Properties
A patent is the best form of legal protection for innovations and technology up-gradation which results in significant improvement for monetization of the technology. Inventions in terms of industrial processes development of technology for manufacturing products are protected by patents.
Written and published texts and performances like speeches as well as musical concerts and the related recordings enjoy the copyrights. For this purpose, only copyright claim has to be published along with the original material by the owner. This is done simply by putting the copyright symbol followed by the publisher’s name and year.
Design shapes and forms which are part of the product and related to trade can be protected under the industrial designs protection act.
Those properties of products that indicate the location of origin of the product can be registered under this.
In India plant varieties are protected by a separate set of laws and associated frameworks. Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority is the organization dealing with these aspects. National Bureaux on plant genetic resources (NBPGR), fish genetic resources, (NBFGR), microbes, insect resources are all protected by respective organizations.
For help related to development, registration and handling legal issues related to trademarks, trademarks agent offer their valuable services. For knowing the contact details of registered agents, click this link: List of Agents
There is no doubt that the trademark increases the visibility of the business firm. It also changes the perceptional benefits for the business from all angles. Misuse and copying of the intellectual properties are legally protected by intellectual property rights (IPR) laws. Even though these are the negative rights preventing others from utilizing it gives a lot of value for the owner connected with products and services. It is very important to manage IPR wisely to grow the business globally. There are many instances where the brand value is very high and IP is much more valuable than the physical business assets. By this, we can imagine the power and value of these IPs. Owning a valuable IP is the dream for modern business owners.
Muralikrishna, H. and Muralidharan, K.
ICAR-Central Plantation Crops Research Institute
Kudlu P.O., Kasaragod – 671124, Kerala, India.