Legal AdviceTrademarks

Is Trademark Registration Compulsory For E-Commerce Companies?

In the ongoing aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, many new e-commerce businesses are entering the market. And they all have one common query: whether they need to register a trademark before starting such a business in India. In this post, we address all of these questions and more.

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A registered trademark is valid for 20 years in India and can be renewable indefinitely. In India, trademark registration can be obtained by submitting an application to the Trade Marks Registry (TMR), which is part of the Controller General’s Office for Patents, Designs, and Trademarks (CGPDTM). The experts at Vakilsearch can help facilitate the trademark registration process in the simplest way possible.

Did you know that Trademarks can now be registered online, and that trademark search processes can be automated? Contact the experts for the easiest route to successful trademark registration.

Is Trademark Registration Mandatory for an e-Commerce Firm?

The simple answer is no. Trademark registration is not mandatory for every e-commerce form, however, we strongly advise in favour of filing a trademark application for your unique brand identity at the earliest. 

Understanding “Prior Use” in Trademarks

The organisation that has established first use is given priority under trademark law. Furnishing the   proof of “prior use” during the trademark application process will almost certainly give you an advantage over a competitor or another person using the same mark. 

This is because prior use frequently takes precedence over registration. Thus, even if you started using the name first and someone else has a trademark registration for it,  courts may still award the trademark to you.

Rights to Transfer the Trademark at a Later Stage

Aside from the basic right to use your trademark exclusively, you can also assign it to a third party. This right is  typically significant for smaller and early-stage businesses looking for potential investors and buyers. As investors view a company that has acquired intellectual property rights more favorably.

Distinction Between Name Approval Under the Companies Act and Trademarks Act

Getting your business name approved by the Registrar of Companies is often the first step in company incorporation. The Registrar may reject your name if it is similar to another company that has obtained registration before you.

However, getting the Registrar of Company’s approval doesn’t guarantee intellectual property rights over the name. Put simply, this means that your name may be approved under the Companies Act but would still be vulnerable to being challenged under the Trademarks Act. Hence, it is important to file a trademark application separately. 

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Scope of Trademark Registration While an   e-Commerce Firm Is Still Under Development

We understand that choosing a name, logo, tag line and other creative attributes for your business can be a challenging task. Hence, if you’re a proprietor with some registrable component of the trademark (such as the name), then you must protect the fruits of your labour by applying to the registrar for the registration of the trademark. 

This task can be undertaken even before the company has been set up. After the company comes into operation, the company set up by the proprietors can begin using the registered marks together or independently.

As one of the leading e-commerce advisors in India, Vakilsearch can help you in your trademark registration process.

Are Trademarks Registered in India Valid Worldwide?

No, trademarks registered in India aren’t valid worldwide. Since e-commerce businesses aren’t restricted only to India, it is worth opting for international grants of trademarks. In this context, the Madrid Protocol is significant. 

  • The Madrid Protocol allows for cost-effective and easy filing for trademark grants in a network of more than 100 countries. Since 2013, India has been a member of this international treaty for trademarks 
  • Filing via the Madrid protocol can be done through the Indian trademarks office itself
  • This treaty has allowed numerous domestic e-commerce companies to protect their mark across multiple jurisdictions of their choice. 

Such an application can also be made to the Indian trademark registration website, accessible at www.ipindia.gov.in. You will be provided with a choice to specify the countries where you wish to avail the trademark protection. Generally, if you receive a no-objection notice within 18 months, the trademark is considered to be granted. Get in touch with our intellectual property experts to get the process started right away!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is it better to trademark a name or logo?

A trademark is any mark capable of being graphical representation. It is, therefore, a comprehensive gamut of distinguishing aspects such as name, symbol, logo, colours, letters, numerals, signatures, words etc. For a business, both – its name as well as logo, (and all taglines, slogans) are important and worth protecting and hence, to answer the query a combination of both the name and the logo along with the other aspects of a brand’s identity should be trademarked.

Q. For an e-commerce firm, who is eligible to file a trademark?

Under the Trade Marks Act, any person claiming to be the proprietor of a trademark can apply for registration in writing to the Registrar. Thus, if an e-commerce firm is owned by an individual they can make an application for registration of the trademark. However, if the e-commerce is owned by a company, the trademark should ordinarily be registered under the name of the company.

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