New products and services are launched in the market everyday. Products similar to the one already existing in the market are also introduced to the consumers. This makes it necessary for businesses to secure their position and to emerge as a brand name in the market. Companies ensure that their goods and services are distinguished from other similar products in the market as well as easily recognized by its customers. For this purpose, the concept of trademark was introduced. It is an intellectual property. A brand name, logo or a symbol which is used to represent a business or its products is referred to as a trademark. Trademark helps the customers to identify the producers of a particular product or services. A company cannot use a trademark similar to that of other companies. It is legally protected.
Section 2 (1) (2b) of the Trade marks Act 1999 defines trade mark as a mark which is capable of being represented graphically and distinguishes the goods or services of one person from those of others. It may include shape of goods, their packaging and colour combination.
To prevent any clash or conflicts, it is important for businesses to register their trademark. Once trademark gets registered, it can be renewed for an indefinite period of time. Trademark renewal is done after every 10 years so that the company’s logo or brand name can be protected perpetually. The process of trademark registration has been given below.
- Trademark search- the first step in trademark registration is a thorough search. Before choosing a trade mark, companies or businesses should perform a trademark search to ensure that their chosen trademark is not similar to the registered trademark of any other company or business. Companies should also go through the pending applications for trademark registration to confirm that their chosen trademark is unique in the market.
- Filing trademark application- once you are sure that your trademark is unique and has no resemblance to any other trademark, you should file an application for registering your trademark.
- Trademark Examination- After the trademark application is filed, it is inspected by an examiner for any sort of discrepancies. The examination process may take around 12-18 months. The trademark might be absolutely accepted or conditionally accepted. Certain objections to the trademark can also be raised. In case of conditional acceptance, one month’s time is given to adhere to all the necessary conditions. In case of objection, written response needs to be filed and evidence has to be produced. Upon the acceptance of response, trademark is published in the trademark journal. If the response is not accepted then a hearing with the Registrar is scheduled. The Registrar may allow the publication of trademark or ask the applicant to file an affidavit.
- Trademark Publication- When the registrar allows the trademark application, a Letter of Acceptance is issued and the trademark is then published in the Trademark Journal.
- Registration certificate- If no objections are raised within 3-4 months of publication of trademark, the registration process takes place and a registration certificate is issued. Your trademark is now registered.
Trademark Renewal is the process of renewing a registered trademark after every 10 years. Once a trademark is registered, it is valid for a period of 10 years from application and can be renewed indefinitely. An application for trademark renewal must be filed before the completion of 10 years. After 10 years, the trademark gets expired and needs to be renewed.
IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF TRADEMARK RENEWAL
- 10 year protection- Trademarks have to be renewed after every 10 years provided that business is still operating in the market. Trademark registration is valid only for a period of 10 years and its renewal extends the legal protection by 10 more years. It can be renewed indefinitely.
- Trademark Journal- A trademark is advertised in the Trademark Journal which is the official gazette of the Trade Marks registry. In case of no objection by third parties, the Trademark Examiner allows the trademark application. This process is necessary only at the time of trademark registration and is not required for the renewal of an existing trademark.
- Timeline- After filing an application for trademark renewal, the status of the application should be periodically checked till the time it is processed. Various actions or time-bound responses may be required from the applicant’s side for successful trademark renewal.
TRADEMARK RENEWAL PROCEDURE
Applications for trademark renewal can be filed should be filed at least six months before the completion of 10 years of trademark registration. Before the expiration date of the registered trademark, the Registrar sends a reminder to the owner of the registered trademark stating the information regarding the expiration of the trademark and payment of fees for its renewal. Renewal of trademark is generally done in two ways.
- Trademark renewal can be done by altering any sign or words in the already registered trademark.
- An application for renewal of trademark can also be filed without proposing a change in sign or words.
If the trademark renewal application is not filed before the expiry of the registered trademark, the process of renewal of trademark can still be initiated anytime within 6 months of its expiration. TM-12 form with the prescribed late fee needs to be filled.
BENEFITS OF TRADEMARK RENEWAL
Trademark is an intellectual property which provides several benefits to its owners.
- Unique identity- It gives a company or a business the nationwide exclusive right to use the trademark and to prevent others from using a similar name or symbol. It helps in creating and maintaining an image for its quality services and products.
- Legal Protection- Owner of a registered trademark is legally protected and has a considerable advantage in case of any conflict. Others can not misuse or take advantage of the registered trademark to increase their business. If the registered trademark is infringed, you also have the legal right to approach the court and claim compensation. However, if the trademark is not registered, you can not approach the court.
- Business Opportunity- A registered trademark gives you numerous business opportunities. You can earn money by licensing your business or transferring ownership rights to a third party. It also gives you the exclusive rights to advertise your products or services. No third party can sell products or advertise while using your registered trademark.
All the above mentioned benefits are available to the owners of registered trademarks. Therefore, it is important to renew your trademark every 10 years and to avail the benefits. If you do not file an application for trademark renewal after 10 years, the trademark will no longer be registered and will expire. If the trademark is not renewed, companies and businesses are not capable of approaching the court if their trademark is infringed. Trademark renewal is therefore important.