Brand name registration
Brand names and logos are used by business entities or individuals for business. Registration of brand name or logo registration is necessary to protect the goodwill and reputation of one’s business from competitors. Selecting a strong brand name is very important as it distinguishes the mark from other available marks in the trade. Use of a word that is commonly required by other traders is to be avoided. Mainly, the idea behind using a trademark is to distinguish one’s own products from those of others. In order to register a brand name, it should be “capable of distinguishing” the trademarked goods or services from those of other traders. A brand name should be appealing and have an agreeable image or connotation.
Trying to market a poor brand name or logo which is similar or identical to another registered mark may entangle you in legal disputes. Therefore, before registration of a brand name or logo, it is essential to know the trademarks which are prohibited under the trademark law.
Brand name registration allowed:
Distinctive brand names, surnames, proper names, and coined words can be registered as a trademark. For example Birla Corporation Limited uses their surname Birla as their trademark. A trademark can be registered if it is able to distinguish its product in the market and it is not used to deceive or confuse the customer.
Brand name registration not allowed:
Trademark registration of the following marks [brand names] is prohibited under the trademark law:
Trademarks Devoid of distinctive character
A trademark which does not distinguish the goods and services from others or which describes the nature and quality of goods and services or has become customary in respect of the relevant goods or services cannot be registered. For example, Otis’s trademark “Escalator” for moving staircases became a generic trademark. And therefore, the Trademark Office concluded that Otis cannot use its trademark since the mark has become customary in respect of moving stairs.
Marks that Deceive or confuse the customer
A mark which is an imitation of a well-known trademark for same or similar goods and can deceive consumers cannot be registered as a trademark. For example, Using a mark “Colmate” with similar “Colgate” for toothpaste would not be registered as a trademark.
Marks that can hurt religious sentiments or contains obscene matter cannot be registered. For example, the mark “Hallelujah” for clothing was not given registration.
A mark where the application for registration is in bad faith; or seal/flag of the Republic or of other countries, or a mark which is prohibited under the law cannot be registered. For example- National flag of a country.
Shape of goods
If the shape of the good results in nature of the goods or gives technical results and substantial value, such a mark cannot be registered. This is because it would limit the development of industries which manufacture it. For example, the shape of Vienetta ice cream that resulted from the nature of the product itself was held not registrable.
Any mark which is similar to an earlier trademark in identity and similarity in goods and services cannot be registered. For example, another “Kodak” for the camera or “Fair and lovely” for cosmetics would not be registered as a trademark.
Geographical names cannot be used when a particular place is famous for a particular good/ service. For example, “Nilgiris” cannot be used for tea since Nilgiri is famous for its tea. However, if there is no connection between a particular place and product, it can still be registered. For example “the North Pole” for ice-creams can be registered since the North Pole is not connected to ice-creams. These simple rules should be kept in mind while selecting a good trade name. Keeping these rules in mind, one can select a strong brand name which would be distinctive and would be legally enforceable as well as easily registrable.