Trademarks can be of various types; service marks, collective marks, certification marks etc. Whatever the type of trademark, the purpose of the trademark is the same; to distinguish the source of the goods or services and assure the consumers of the quality of the product or service.
Before delving into the types of trademarks, we must first understand what the term trademark means.
What is a Trademark?
A “Trademark” is defined under Section 2(zb) of the Indian Trademarks Act, 1999 as “mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others and may include a shape of goods, their packaging, and combination of colors.”
Simply put, a trademark may include a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral, a shape of goods, packaging or combination of colors or any such combinations. (Section 2(m)). The only qualification for a trademark being its capacity to distinguish the goods or services of one person from that of another.
In order to understand the requirements for choosing a proper trademark for your business, you may refer to our previous blog post what cannot be registered.
What are the types of Trademarks?
A trademark may be divided into the following categories:
1. Word marks: Word marks may be words letters or numerals. A word mark gives the proprietor a right only in the word, letter or numerical. No right is sought with respect to the representation of the mark.
2. Device marks: Where the trademark lies in the unique representation of a word, letter or numerical, it is called as a device mark.
3. Service Marks: A service mark is nothing but a mark that distinguishes the services of one person from that of another. Service marks do not represent goods, but the services offered by a person/ company.
They are used in a service business where actual goods under the mark are not traded. It is a mechanism available to protect marks used in the service industry. Thus businesses providing services like computer hardware and software assembly and maintenance, restaurant and hotel services, courier and transport, beauty and health care, advertising, publishing, educational and the like are now in a position to protect their names and marks from being misused by others. As service marks, the substantive and procedural rules governing for the service marks are fundamentally the same.
4. Collective Marks: Marks being used by a group of companies can now be protected by the group collectively. Collective marks are used to inform the public about a particular feature of the product for which the collective mark is used. The owner of such marks may be an association or public institution or cooperative. Collective marks are also used to promote particular products which have certain characteristics specific to the producer in a given region.
5. Certification Marks: Certification marks are used to define standards. They assure the consumers that the product meets certain prescribed standards. The presence of certification mark on a product indicates that the product has successfully gone through a standard test specified. It assures the consumer that the manufacturers have gone through an audit process to ensure the quality of the product. For example, Toys, Electrical goods, etc. have such marking that indicates the safety and the quality of the product.
The difference between the certification mark and the collective mark is that the collective mark is used by a particular enterprise or members of the association while a certification mark may be used by anybody who meets the defined standards.
6. Well-known marks: When a mark is easily recognised among a large percentage of the population it achieves the status of a well-known mark. Well-known marks enjoy greater protection. Persons will not be able to register or use marks, which are imitations of well-known trademarks. In order to be well-known, a trademark needs to be known/ recognised by a relevant section of people. These people includes actual or potential customers, people involved in the distribution and business service dealing with the goods/services.
7. Unconventional Trademarks: Unconventional trademarks are those trademarks which get recognition for their inherently distinctive feature.
Unconventional trademarks include the following categories:
Colour Trademark: If a particular colour has become a distinctive feature indicating the goods of a particular trader it can be registered as a trademark. For example, Red Wine.
Sound Marks: Signs which are perceived by hearing and which is distinguishable by their distinctive and exclusive sound can be registered as sound marks. For example, Musical notes.
Shape Marks: When the shape of goods, packaging have some distinctive feature it can be registered. For example, Ornamental Lamps.
Smell Marks: When the smell is distinctive and cannot be mistaken for an associated product it can be registered as a smell mark. For example, Perfumes.
On the whole, a trademark is an important means to protect the goodwill and reputation of a Business. While filing a trademark, the applicant can choose any aforementioned types of trademarks based on the nature of the mark.
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