Logo registration has many benefits once your brand gains traction. The little effort it takes will give you the ability to establish your right to the logo (or even word, sound, graphic or color combination) in court, prevents similar names from being registered by other businesses operating in the space as your business and is an asset any investor would be interested in knowing you have, as part of an intellectual property audit. And you can start using it in just 3 days! The following report will walk you through the logo registration procedure and covers the possible problems at each step.
1. Logo Availability Search
Time to Complete: 1 day
The first piece is the search for whether your unique name or logo has been taken already. You have probably conducted a preliminary investigation while checking to see if there are any other domains using the same name as you. But it needs to be done officially, with the Trademarks Office. This can be done both online and offline. It is recommended that you consult an experienced lawyer (you would need to provide him/her with an authorisation letter). They are well-versed in the technique and are be able to conduct an exhaustive search. Also, if another such name or logo has already been trademarked, but you believe that you have right to it, you would need the help of a lawyer.
A couple of important questions right now:
If someone has a similar word trademarked, I can’t get it at all?
Not exactly. Rather than trademark the word, though, you can design a unique logo for your business and include the name in it. Take BMW as an example. The BMW is within the logo. Or you could add a small prefix to the name, if that will do. If your name is Ravi and you want to trademark the brand ‘Winn’, you could combine create the dynamic brand R-Winn. So there are ways out. But remember that it is always good to have a unique name.
Whose name am I filing the trademark in, my own or in the company’s?
You could do it in either. But many entrepreneurs prefer to register the trademark in their own name, as doing it in the company’s name would mean that the shareholders own it. You may want to have a trademark license agreement in the former case.
2. Filing of Form TM-1
Time to Complete: 2 working days
Cost: Rs. 4000 per application per class + lawyer’s fees
So now that you have your name, on to filing of Form TM-1. Each such form would contain only one application. So if you were registering the trademark in two classes (i.e. sectors) – let’s say Relentless Shoes and Relentless Hardware, as well as a separate logo for each, you would be making four applications. With government fees at Rs. 4,000 per application, you would be paying Rs. 16,000 in this case. The lawyer’s fees, which start at Rs. 2,000 per application, would be extra. Of course, in case of the logos, you would need to also to provide a picture of it in the JPEG format. The acknowledgement, which mentions the filing date and application number, is received immediately, but the Original Representation Sheet would take another two days.
3. Use your Trademark
Time to Complete: Does not apply
Cost: Does not apply
Congratulations! Your ™ is ready for use. But it’s also time for a long wait to get the registration mark, which allows you to use the ® symbol. This could take up to 2 years. And that’s in case it all goes smoothly.
4. Issue of Examination Report
Time to Complete: 3 to 6 months
Cost: Free, but Rs. 4000 to Rs. 6000 in case of an objection
The process of questioning your claim to the trademarked logo only begins now. First the government will itself check if it has objections to your application. Here’s what happens if there is:
a. No Objection: If the government has no objection to the trademark you’ve applied for in its examination report, it will issue a Letter of Acceptance (also known as a TLA order), after which an advertisement will be placed in the Trade Marks Journal.
b. An Objection: The government could raise objections for a variety of reasons: it may deem the word or logo too similar to an existing trademark, believe it to be obscene or that it could hurt religious sentiments. If you wish to challenge this objection, you would need to pay a further Rs. 3,000, as well as lawyer’s fees, which should be a minimum of Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 5,000. This is to frame a response to the objection or present evidence of the distinctiveness of your trademark. An interview with the examiner may also be posted. In this case, it is imperative for the lawyer to be fully aware of your business activities. If the government withdraws its objection, it will then publish the advertisement in the Trade Marks Journal.
5. Advertisement in Trade Marks Journal
Time to Complete: 3 to 6 months
Cost: Free, but legal fees in case of opposition
The government having signalled its approval, the trademark is now ready to be viewed by the public, in the Trade Marks Journal. If no one is opposed to it 4 months from its publication, the trademark registration certificate will be issued in 6 to 10 months. However, if there is an opposition, the matter could drag on for months, as both parties will be given opportunity to be heard. Legal fees would also apply.
6. Trademark Registration
Time to Complete: Up to 9 months
Cost: Does not apply
Around 9 months after the advertisement is published, the trademark will be registered. In case of an opposition, 9 months after the Registrar rules in your favour. The registered trademark is valid for 10 years at a time and is renewable indefinitely.