A trademark is any unique expression distinguishing your product or service from all others. It could be a brand name, a logo, a slogan, a sound or even a smell. The purpose of registering your trademark is to ensure that you alone have commercial rights to it.
Given the rapid increase in business registrations over the past decade, entrepreneurs should run a trademark search as early as possible to ensure that the name their consumers are remembering their business by is not in use by anyone else in India — or, for that matter, any business that is likely to enter the country. If this is not done, you may end up having to switch your brand name in due course, thereby confusing your customers.
Running a Search
If you have picked out a name for your business and would like to see if anyone else is using it, you can run a trademark search to confirm. This way, even before you register for a trademark, you can confirm its availability in the market and, thus, think of alternatives, in case you are duplicating someone else’s trademark.
You can run a search, free of cost on the Vakilsearch trademark search database, which is up-to-date with all the information maintained by the Comptroller General of Patent Designs and Trademarks.
The database includes not just approved trademarks, but also recent applications, those that have been objected or opposed and even those that have now expired. Hence, you can have a comprehensive look at all trademarks available, registered, expired or even applied for.
Running the search is easy. Simply enter your brand name and select the class under which you wish to trademark it. There are 45 trademark classes in all and each of them covers an industry. For example, Class 5 covers all pharmaceutical products, while Class 29 covers meat, processed foods and milk. Select the trademark class relevant to your brand and hit search.
The results will tell you whether your trademark is available or has already been taken.
Running a Trademark Search via IPIndia
Thousands of consultants and agents daily use the IPIndia website to check whether a trademark is taken already. Follow the below-mentioned steps for running a search:
Go to the official trademark search page on the website of the Controller General of Patents, Design and Trademarks:
Select wordmark and pick either ‘Starts With’ or ‘Contains’, as you see fit, before typing in the word/s you want to register in the below page.
From the results, you will be able to tell if your trademark is available. If there are many existing results for the name, you may have to change your brand name (do check to see whether the existing results are approved or expired).
If you find that your name has not been taken, do also check for phonetic similarities with other registered names. To do this, you need to select the dropdown at the top of the page (ignore Vienna Code). While the phonetic search is not very accurate, you can say with certainty that your trademark will be approved if there are not any relevant matches here either.
If, after running the phonetic search, your brand name is still available, you can start the registration procedure immediately.
There are different classes in which a trademark is registered. Select the dropdown menu ‘Class Details’ for a detailed account of different classes under which the trademarks are registered.
If the brand name (trademark) you have picked for your business is already registered by someone else, find out which class it has been registered under. If the class is different than yours, your application is still likely to be approved. However, this will not be possible if the other business is very well known. For example, you cannot register the brand name McDonald’s or Fiat even though you will not be present in the fast food or automobile business. Your application will be rejected.
If your chances are still low, do consider a logo composite mark. This would involve the registration of a brand name within a logo. While not an ideal solution, if it is sufficiently unique from the mark it is already clashing with, it should get passed without any trouble.