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Trademark Registration in India: Procedures, Jurisdiction and Legal Framework

Trademark registration is a crucial legal process that grants exclusive rights to the owner over their distinctive marks, protecting them from unauthorized use and infringement. Governed by specific regulations under the purview of the Registrar, the process ensures that trademarks, whether for goods or services, are duly recognized and safeguarded. This article delves into the essential aspects of trademark registration in India, detailing procedures, jurisdictional nuances, and the significance of trademark symbols. It also highlights the roles of various Trademark Registry offices across the country in administering and maintaining these vital intellectual property assets.

Trademark Registry

The Register of Trade Marks is maintained at the Mumbai Head Office, overseen by the Registrar. It contains details of registered trademarks, including proprietors' names, addresses, and descriptions. Information on assignments, transmissions, registered users, and other prescribed matters is also recorded. The Registrar may keep the records wholly or partly in computer floppies, or in any other electronic form to safeguard. The businesses located in a particular state can only use the services of the assigned Trademark Registration Office. In the case of foreign applicants, jurisdiction is based on the location of the office of the applicant agent or attorney.

Territorial Jurisdiction of Trademark Registration Offices:

  • Mumbai - Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Goa.
  • Ahmedabad - Gujarat and Rajasthan and Union Territories of Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
  • Kolkata - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura, Jharkhand and Union Territories of Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • New Delhi - Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.
  • Chennai - Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Union Territories of Pondicherry and Lakshadweep Island.

Designation of Trademark Symbols:

  • TM - Represents that the Trademark is unregistered. This mark can be used for promoting the goods of the company.
  • SM - Represents that the Trademark is unregistered. This mark can be used for promoting brand services.
  • R - Represents a registered Trademark/Service. The applicant of the registered Trademark is its legal owner.
Application for Registration
Any person claiming to be the proprietor of a trademark used or proposed to be used by him may apply in writing to the Registrar for the registration of his trademark. The term any person is wide enough to include any individual, company, or association of persons or body of individuals, society, HUF, partnership firm, whether registered or not, government, trust, etc. A trademark, which is even proposed to be used can also be a subject matter of an application. Once registration is obtained, there can always be a gap between the user of the trademark from the date of registration of the trademark and the actual user of the trademark.

Single Application for Different Classes of Goods and Services
Section 18(2), A single application may be made for registration of a trademark for different classes of goods and services and the fee payable shall be for each such class of goods or services. Where a single application is filed from a convention country for one or more classics of goods or services, they need to prove to the Registrar that the application was filed on the same date for all those categories.

Application to be filed in the office of Trademarks Registry
The application for registration of a trademark is to be filed in the office of the Trade

Marks Registry within whose territorial limits the principal place of business of the applicant or the case of joint applicants, the principal place of business of the first applicant is situated.

Acceptance or Refusal of Application
The Registrar may refuse the application or accept it absolutely or subject to such amendments, modifications, conditions, or limitations, if any, as he may think fit. In case of a refusal or conditional acceptance of an application. The Registrar shall record in writing the grounds and the materials used by him in arriving at his decision.

Withdrawal of Acceptance
After the acceptance of an application for registration of a trademark but before registration, if the Registrar is satisfied that the application has been accepted or that in the circumstances of the case, the trademark should not be registered or should be registered subject to conditions or limitations to which the application has been accepted, then the Registrar may withdraw the acceptance after hearing the applicant and proceed as if the application had not been accepted. Typically, if the application has been thoroughly examined and accepted, there won't be a need for withdrawal.

Advertisement of Application
Section 20, when an application for registration of a trademark has been accepted whether absolutely or subject to conditions or limitations, the Registrar shall cause the application to be advertised as accepted subject to which it has been accepted. The Registrar may, however, cause the application to be advertised before acceptance.

Opposition To Registration
Section 21 enables a person to give notice of opposition to registration in writing to the Registrar within 4 months from the date of advertisement or re-advertisement of an application. A notice of opposition may be given to the Registrar and the applicant by any person opposing registration. Registrar after giving an opportunity of hearing to the applicant and his opponent, to decide whether registration is to be permitted.

Counter-Statement from the Applicant
The registrar is duty-bound to serve a copy of the notice to the applicant for registration. The applicant shall send a counter-statement of the grounds on which he relies for his application within 2 months from the receipt of such copy of the notice of opposition If the applicant fails, he shall be deemed to have abandoned his application. If the applicant sends a counter-statement, the Registrar shall serve a copy on the opponent.

Submission of Evidence and the Decision of Registrar
Any evidence upon which the opponent and the applicant may rely is to be submitted to the Registrar within the prescribed time. The Registrar will then listen to both sides and decide whether to allow the registration. Even if the opponent didn't mention a reason for objection, the Registrar can still consider it. If the opponent or applicant doesn't live or do business in India, the Registrar can ask them to pay for the proceedings. If they don't pay, the opposition or application might be considered abandoned. The Registrar can also permit changes to the opposition notice, even if new reasons are introduced.

Section 23, When an application for registration of a trademark has been accepted and either, the application has not been opposed and the time for notice of opposition has expired; or the application has been opposed and the opposition has been decided in favor of the applicant, the Registrar shall register the said trademark within 18 months of the filing of the application. A trademark shall be registered as of the date of the making of the said application. The date of application is to be the date of registration.

Jointly Owned Trademarks
The Act does not authorize the registration of two or more persons as joint proprietors

who use a trademark independently or propose so to use it. But if they have a special relationship where none of them can use the trademark alone without the others, they can register together. In this case, the law treats them as if they were one person with the right to use the trademark.

Duration of Registration
Section 25, The duration of registration of a trademark is 10 years. But it was renewable from time to time. The reason was to adopt the generally accepted international practice and to reduce the workload of the Trade Mark Office.

Renewal of Registration
On an application made by the registered proprietor of a trademark in a prescribed manner, period, and payment fee, the Registrar shall renew the registration of the trademark for a period of 10 years from the date of expiration of the original registration or of the last renewal of registration. The Registrar shall, however, not remove the trademark from the register and renew it for a period of 10 years if an application is made in the prescribed form and fee and surcharge is paid within 6 months from the expiration of the last registration of the trade mark.

Restoration of Registration
Section 254, where a trademark has been removed from the register for a non-payment fee, the Registrar shall on receipt of an application and payment of the prescribed fee between 6 months to 1 year from the expiration of the last registration of the trademark, if satisfied restore the trademark to the register and renew the registration of the trade mark for a period of 10 years either generally or subject to such conditions or limitations as he thinks fit to impose. The restoration of trade mark will be published in the Trade Marks Journal.

Removal of Trade Mark
Before the expiration of the last registration of a trademark, the Registrar is duty-bound to send notice at the prescribed time and manner to the registered proprietor of the date of expiration and the conditions as to payment of fees and otherwise upon which a renewal of registration may be obtained. The Registrar may remove the trademark from the register if, at the expiration of the prescribed time, those conditions have not been duly complied with. The Registrar shall advertise the fact in the Trade Marks Journal.

In conclusion, navigating the realm of trademark registration in India involves adhering to a structured framework overseen by the Registrar of Trademarks. From the initial application process, which accommodates a wide range of applicants, to the complexities of opposition and renewal, each stage is meticulously governed to uphold the integrity and exclusivity of registered trademarks. With provisions for territorial jurisdiction and renewal cycles, the system not only facilitates protection but also promotes fair competition and innovation. As businesses continue to leverage trademarks as integral assets, understanding these regulatory mechanisms remains pivotal for securing and maintaining rights in the dynamic marketplace.

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