Authored By: Akshada Khapre
Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur



In today’s competitive global marketplace, establishing a strong brand presence is essential for businesses to flourish. Trademarks serve as a foundation for brand identity, enabling consumers to recognize and trust products or services. Trademark registration is a crucial step in safeguarding these valuable assets and ensuring long-term brand protection. This article delves into the importance of trademark registration, the registration process, and various aspects pertaining the same.



A trademark is a legally recognized symbol, word, phrase, design, or combination thereof used to distinguish and identify goods or services from one source to another. Section 2(1)(zb) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 defines “Trademark” as a mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others. It may include words, names, symbols, labels, shapes, packaging, and combinations thereof.



Trademark registration provides several crucial benefits:

Exclusive Rights: Registered trademark owners enjoy exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with their goods or services, preventing others from using similar marks that may cause confusion.

Legal Protection: Registered trademarks are protected by law, enabling owners to enforce their rights and take legal action against infringers.

Nationwide Protection: Registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants nationwide protection, expanding a business’s reach beyond its local market.

Deterrent Effect: A registered trademark can discourage potential infringers and competitors from using a similar mark.



The process of trademark registration involves several steps:

Trademark Search: Before applying for registration, conduct a thorough trademark search to ensure the chosen mark is not already in use. This helps avoid potential conflicts.

Application Filing: Submit a trademark application to the relevant government agency, such as the USPTO in the United States. Include a detailed description of the mark, its intended use, and a specimen showing how it is used.

Examination: The trademark office will examine the application for compliance with registration requirements, including distinctiveness and lack of conflicts with existing marks.

Publication: If the application passes examination, it is typically published in an official gazette to allow for opposition by third parties who believe they would be harmed by the registration.

Registration: If no opposition is filed or successfully defended, the trademark is registered, granting exclusive rights to the owner.

Maintenance: Trademark owners must periodically renew and maintain their registrations to keep them in force.



Trademark laws in India are primarily governed by the Trade Marks Act, 1999, and the Trade Marks Rules, 2017. These laws, along with international treaties, provide the framework for the registration and protection of trademarks in India. Trademark registration is done through the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks (CGPDTM). The registration process includes filing an application, examination by the Trademark Office, publication for opposition, and if no opposition is received, registration is granted.

A trademark registration in India is initially valid for ten years and can be renewed indefinitely for successive ten-year periods. Trademarks can be assigned or licensed, subject to certain conditions and formalities under the Act. India is a party to both the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. This allows foreign entities to seek protection for their trademarks in India. India also has a separate law, the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, to protect geographical indications, which are distinct from trademarks.

Trademark owners can enforce their rights through civil and criminal actions, including injunctions, damages, and seizure of counterfeit goods. Registered trademarks in India can use the ® symbol, while unregistered marks can use the ™ symbol.


However, the Trademark on a company could be rejected or cancelled subsequently with respect to the following grounds:

        i.            Trademarks that are identical or similar to existing trademarks in the same or related classes may be refused or cancelled.

      ii.            Marks that are descriptive, generic, deceptive, or contrary to law or morality may also be refused.

    iii.            Registration may be cancelled for non-use of the mark for a continuous period of five years.



Abercrombie & Fitch Co. v. Hunting World, Inc. (1976) – United States:

This case introduced the concept of trademark distinctiveness, categorizing trademarks into different levels of distinctiveness, including generic, descriptive, suggestive, and arbitrary or fanciful marks. The strength of trademark protection often depends on this classification.

McDonald’s Corporation v. Future Enterprises Pvt Ltd (2017) – India:

This case involved trademark infringement by a restaurant called “McCurry,” which McDonald’s argued was deceptively similar to their mark. The court ruled in favour of McDonald’s, emphasizing the importance of protecting well-known trademarks from dilution and infringement.

Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (2018) – United States:

This case centred on a dispute between Apple and Samsung over the design and functionality of smartphones. It highlighted the significance of design patents in the technology industry and led to discussions about the scope of protection for design elements in product design.



When a mark is registered, the owner is given the sole right to use it in connection with a particular good or service. This exclusivity means that others cannot use a similar mark that might confuse consumers. Registered trademarks are legally protected. In the event of trademark infringement, the owner can take legal action against the infringing party, including seeking injunctions, damages, and other remedies.

Registering a trademark with the relevant government authority, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the United States, provides nationwide protection. This means that the trademark owner’s rights extend throughout the entire country, not just in specific regions. A registered trademark can act as a deterrent. When others see that a mark is registered, they may be less likely to use a similar mark to avoid potential legal consequences. Trademark registration creates a legal presumption of validity and ownership.

In disputes, the burden of proof often shifts to the alleged infringer to demonstrate why the trademark should not be valid. In many jurisdictions, registered trademark owners have access to enhanced legal remedies, including the potential for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in infringement cases. Trademark registration can serve as a defensive strategy. It prevents competitors from registering a similar mark, which could have been used against the brand owner.

Registered trademarks can have significant monetary value. They can be licensed or assigned to others, generating revenue for the brand owner. Trademark registration can help protect against counterfeiting and the sale of counterfeit goods, as authorities can take action against counterfeiters based on the registered mark. A registered trademark enhances a brand’s reputation and legitimacy. Consumers tend to trust products and services associated with registered trademarks more than unregistered ones.

For brands seeking to expand internationally, having a registered trademark can facilitate trademark registration in other countries through international treaties like the Madrid Protocol. Registration serves as clear evidence of the date of first use and ownership. This can be crucial in disputes over prior use and common-law rights.



Trademark registration and brand protection are vital for businesses seeking to establish a strong market presence and protect their intellectual property. Understanding the importance of trademarks, the registration process, and employing effective protection strategies are essential steps in safeguarding your brand and its reputation in today’s competitive business landscape.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *