1. Pick your “class.” Selecting a trademark seems easy, right? Not always. You have to be sure that your mark is unique and doesn’t infringe on existing trademarks, or on marks that are waiting for approval. To pick a unique mark, you will first have to figure out what “class” you belong to.
- In India, there are 45 classes of goods and services under trademark law. You will need to figure out the closest class for your company.
- For example, are you looking to trademark a logo for musical instruments? This is class 15. What about leather goods? Class 18.
- Services are classed, as well. For instance, advertising agencies will file for trademark under class 35.
- The full list of classes is available through the Indian Controller General of Patents and Trademarks.
2. Pick a distinctive mark. Aim for unique. One common mistake is to pick a trademark that is descriptive of the goods or services, like “Maize Brand” cornmeal. These marks are actually hard to register and enforce. Competitors may also be able to obtain a very similar brand or logo, for example.
- You might try to choose a “coined” word that has no direct link to your goods or services, i.e. “Canon” film.
- Alternatively, try finding a word that is completely random or arbitrary when it comes to your product. Think “Ritz” crackers or “Royal Crown” cola.
- Try also to avoid things like superlatives, personal or place names, or words that refer to quality or character (i.e. “premium,” “super,” etc.).
- For symbols, logos, and fonts, then, you need to pick a mark that will not cause consumer confusion in your specific market. A “swoosh” graphic for a shoe company will definitely lead to confusion, for instance, but may be OK for a mining company. Keep this in mind when you do your mark search.
3.Conduct a mark search. You have found the right class and picked a mark. Good. Now, you will need to do a thorough trademark search. This will confirm that your trademark is unique and protect you from later legal challenges. It will keep you from wasting time, money, and effort later on.
- Start with the website of the Controller General’s office under the subheading “Public Search.” Click this button to go to their online, searchable database
- Enter your class number and then begin searching. Try to make sure that your chosen trademark does not generate any duplicates, or even similar names.
- For instance, you might enter class “30” for teas and search for your new trademark “Chai.” This combo generates 140 hits – not a promising result.
- But say that you want to trademark your explosives company (class 13), “Boom Boom ltd.” A search shows no matching or infringing marks. Good work!
4. Pay for legal services, alternatively. You can do a mark search on your own, online. However, it is crucial to be sure that your mark is unique. Your choice will be examined once you’ve filed the application, and can be rejected if it is already taken or too close to an existing trademark. You may want to talk to a lawyer – especially if you aren’t entirely sure of Indian law.
- Look online for attorneys that work in Indian trademark and patent law. There are many.
- While trademark lawyers cost more up front, they can do a thorough check on your mark in several days and guide you through rest of the legal process.
- It may be surprising, but paying for a trademark search can cost less than the cost of rebranding later on to avoid infringements.