Trademark registration is the legal process of registering a trademark or logo with the Trademark Registry in order to protect it. This procedure is critical for businesses because it grants them the exclusive right to use their trademark in connection with the goods or services they offer.
Businesses may not be granted legal protection against third-party trademark infringement if they do not register their trademark. Businesses profit from trademark registration in a variety of ways. It grants companies the legal authority to restrict others from using their trademark, allowing them to maintain their brand reputation and avoid customer misunderstanding. It also enables businesses to licence or transfer their trademarks to third parties, which can bring in profits for the proprietor.
Trademark registration also gives companies legal recourse in the event of an infringement. If a third party uses a registered trademark without authorization, the trademark owner may sue to cease the infringement and recover damages.
ARE TRADEMARK RIGHTS ON NUMERALS ALLOWED IN INDIA?
In India, numbers have trademark rights and can be registered as trademarks under section 2(1)(m) of the Trademark Act, 1999 (hereinafter referred to as the “Trademark Act”). Numbers can be used as trademarks to differentiate a proprietor’s goods or services from those of another.
It is crucial to remember, however, not all numerals can be registered as trademarks. The numerals must be different and not descriptive of the goods or services, and they must not be liable to create customer misunderstanding. In addition, evidence of use or plan to utilise the trademark in commerce must be provided in the trademark application. The Trademark Registrar will review the application and determine if the trademark fits these criteria.
For instance, single numbers with little or no stylization will frequently encounter an objection since many such numbers are used in commerce to represent a quantity, quality, or feature of many items, rendering the mark descriptive and qualifying as an absolute reason for trademark denial. Like with other Intellectual Property (hereinafter referred to as “IP”) concerns, there are no hard and fast rules that must be followed in the case of such marks.
Distinctiveness is a factual issue that must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If the trademark is arbitrary, it has no link to the products or services supplied under the mark and is thus intrinsically distinctive, ranking high on the spectrum of trademark distinctiveness. Conversely, certain marks of this type may be judged unique as a consequence of substantial usage and developed distinctiveness as a result of such use. Single number trademarks may be permitted in some instances at the discretion of the Trade Marks Registry.
The Courts have through various cases laid down the law with regards to the usage of numerical as trademarks in India. Recently, in the case of Alphavector India v Sach Industries [2023/DHC/000823], the Delhi High Court when deciding on a case of trademark infringement by a similar sounding numerical mark, held that when there is a clear imitation with intent to deceive, the Court must not bend backward to presume that the intent is not successful and where there is intent to deceive, the Court should pay greater attention to similarities between competing marks and avoid searching for dissimilarities instead.
Priorly, the Delhi High Court concluded in the case of Mona Aggarwal v. Glossy Colours and Paints CS(OS) [2335/2014], that a trademark can be represented by numerals, but that using a numeral as a trademark does not monopolise it in such a way that another party cannot use a brand with alternative numerals. What must be determined is if the mark as a whole i.e., the combination of the numeral, colour scheme, get-up, and layout – is distinct.
Particularly as technology evolves and more businesses go online, trademarks on numerical in India are anticipated to become more significant in the future. The Indian Courts have been active in protecting numerical trademark rights, especially where a company has sought to use a numerical mark that is deceptively similar to an already-registered mark.
As India continues to develop as an economic power, it is likely that more businesses will seek to protect their brand identities through trademark registration. This will include numerical, as businesses seek to differentiate themselves in a crowded market.
– Team AMLEGALS, assisted by Mr. Arth Doshi (Intern)
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