How To Protect Your Brand

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In the connected world we live in, the importance of a brand cannot be understated. It’s how your customers recognise you, how they spread the word, find you online, even how you connect with potential customers. Needless to say, it is essential to protect your brand and ensure that you retain your legal rights to its use, in whatever form. The largest brands, understably, go to great lengths to do so. Levi’s has fought hard to trademark the position of the red label on its jeans; Cadbury’s, for a long time, even had the right to the unique shade of purple it used on its wrappers.

So, What is a Trademark?

A trademark is practically anything that your customers – or potential customers – connect with. For young companies, this usually means trademarking a brand name, logo or slogan, or all three at the same time. To more mature brands, it could go beyond the brand name. It could be a part of a word (Facebook, for example, owns the trademark to the word ‘Face’), the position of a label, a design, a colour or even a smell.

What Does it Mean to Own a Trademark?

It means that you control the commercial rights to the trademarked word/s in a defined sector of business, known as a class. There are 45 classes in all. Class 38, for example, relates to all forms of communications, while Class 28 relates to games, toys and sports equipment. When you trademark a brand name under one of these classes, you can essentially prohibit anyone else operating in the same business as you from using the same name.

Is My Trademark Available?

If you’ve already bought the domain, it should be. But it’s best to check for yourself on the IP India portal or go here. You may find that the name has been taken, but by some business unrelated to the one you’re starting. If this is so, there is still a high probability that your application will be approved.

My Trademark is Taken. Now What?

If the name is taken, you have just one option. You could file a logo composite mark, which incorporates the name of the brand into the logo (Coca-Cola or BMW, for example).

How Long Does it Take to Trademark?

To apply, just three days. And we don’t even need you to send in any documents. You can start using the TM symbol besides your name. But registration will come through two years later. You heard that right. Once done, though, you can use the Registered symbol.

What Should you Expect from Someone Selling you a Trademark?

A. The trademark search to check availability
B. Preparation of authorisation letter
C. Filing of application
D. Status updates until registration

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A lawyer with 14 years' experience, Vikram has worked with several well-known corporate law firms before joining Vakilsearch.

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