Vienna Codes For Image Search
Of the very intimidating process of registering one’s trademark, the first step is to have done a thorough and complete trademark search before registering. Searches must be done to ensure that there are no similar marks in the same class as the proposed mark with the similar goods description.
Trademarks can broadly be of two types – containing a device or containing a word-mark (single or multiple words) and then – those containing a device.
But the main problem arises when there is the question of a DEVICE which maybe an image, graphic label, pictorial element, or combination of the above; its contents and elements used for illustrations may be of many types. A device may have only characters (can be seen in IBM or McDonalds), it may have representation of simple shapes, colours, objects, animals, people, planets, or any other form of life, and may even extend to imaginary characters – or any such combinations.
When conducting for a trademark search, it will be highly impractical to look through every entry of the class of the proposed mark just to find similar mark.
This is achieved through the Vienna Code, short for INTERNATIONAL CLASSIFICATION OF THE FIGURATIVE ELEMENTS OF MARKS – under the Vienna Agreement. The Vienna code classifies every element into a broad 29 categories, where everything from Planets representations all the way to representation of Animals have been meticulously classified, catalogued and categorized.
This can be easily understood with an example –
Let us consider Suresh, a business man who wants to sell sports shoes. Suresh wants his business to be successful and when it does, he wants to buy a Jaguar car. Keeping this dream in mind, he wants his shoes to be named Panther and carry the “leaping panther” emblem, which is exactly the emblem of his dream car. Little does he know, that PUMA the shoe company, also has a leaping wild feline animal, and in-fact have been using this for as long as 60 years.
Now for a prospective new shoe buyer, this poses a problem. When researching for his/her next shoe purchase, the existence of Suresh’s panther brand shoe, alongside the well-established Puma, will obviously cause doubts – even in respect to both companies.
Even an honest mistake like this, can be harmful for the long run of the brand. And that is why, had Suresh searched for existing brands of the Shoe category which have a device of a leaping animal, this can be avoided.
But it is highly impractical to look through every single entry of the Shoe class of trademarks for a leaping animal, and that is why elements of every mark are supposed to be classified under what it figuratively represents
Coming back to Suresh’s story, a simple search using the Vienna Code of the Tiger/Feline animal can yield results with such elements and appropriate choices can be made, without infringing or looking similar to other existing logos.
Consulting a professional Trademark Agent can vastly refine the process of trademark search and ensure that there is thorough background research before proceeding with registration.