Many companies, proprietorships, and firms choose trademark registration as it helps in the marketing and advertising of products and services. The importance of registration of trademark has grown within the previous few years as businesses seek to guard their brand identity from infringement. The application for trademark registration goes through scrutiny in several stages when applying for partnership firms.
A trademark could be a word, image, or symbol employed by a business to differentiate itself from its competitors. Such a logo, symbol, or image becomes the brand’s identity. It is valuable to the corporation as it differentiates the brand from its competitors.
By getting their trademark registered, the firms ensure that the name and symbols are exclusive to them. It prevents others from using an equivalent name or symbol for tricking customers. Thus, trademark registration is an essential tool in today’s competitive business environment. It helps firms and corporations to take care of brand identity and in their marketing campaigns. In this text, we shall check out the Trademark registration process for partnership firms.
Brief about Partnership Firms
A person or a company which has entered into a partnership with another firm to conduct business activities are called Partners and such collaboration is termed Partnership Firm. Partnership firms are regulated in India under the Indian Partnership Act, 1932. Section 4 of the Act defines partnership as a collaboration between entities who have agreed to share business profits carried on by everyone or any of them acting on behalf of everyone.
It should be noted that a partnership firm is not a separate legal entity distinct from its members. It is a collective name given to a group of individuals composing the firm. Such a firm cannot own property or employ people. It also can’t be a debtor or a creditor.
Importance of Trademark Registration for Partnership Firms
The significance of Trademark registration for these firms can be understood from the subsequent points:
- It allows brands to differentiate themselves from their competitors easily.
- With registration, a trademark can become an asset for the partnership firms.
- It also gives legal protection and prevents misuse/copying of brand identity.
- It grants the owners of the firm, the exclusive nationwide right over the trademark.
- It helps a firm to remain distinct in the midst of their competitors, thus making it relatively easy to market their products and make a name for the brand.
- It enhances the market value of business and its goodwill in the Indian market’s customers.
- It assists in expansion of the business to global levels.
Application filing for Trademark Registration
A recognised legal entity or individual is allowed to file an application for Trademark Registration. Thus, it is not necessary to own a corporation or be a business firm to file an application for Trademark Registration in our country. Moreover, individuals or business entities can also file applications for a trademark that they want to use in the future.
As per the Indian law, the subsequent entities may file for Trademark Registration:
- Sole proprietorship
- Partnership Firms
- Private or Public Limited Companies
- Societies and trusts
- Joint owners of a corporation.
Points to Remember before Trademark Approval
These are some essential points that one must know before applying for Trademark Approval for partnership firms:
- Such registration is valid for a period of ten years from the date of application. Post that, the owner of the trademark has the choice to renew the registration and continue the validity.
- An applicant can start using the ™ symbol alongside their name, symbol or logo once they file a trademark application. This symbol indicates that their business has already applied for a trademark and is expecting approval.
- Post obtaining the trademark registration certificate, it can use the ® symbol. This symbol indicates the brand’s logo has been registered.
- After filing for Trademark Registration for Partnership Firms, it will take around 6 to 12 months for approval. This time may vary depending upon verification from the authority.
Procedure to Register a Trademark for Partnership Firms
The procedure for trademark approval is explained below.
- Select a singular or distinctive mark/logo which will represent the essence of the firm or its objectives.
- Consult a legal professional to understand which class trademark belongs.
- The applicant shall conduct a web research to understand whether the chosen mark is analogous to any existing registered mark or not. This is generally done to stop infringement or objections in the future.
- Once the applicant finds that the applied mark is unique, then he/she may apply for registration of trademark under a single or multiple category.
- The next step involves verification from the trademark registrar who checks and verifies the data provided by the applicant and also verifies if the mark applied for doesn’t infringe an already existing one.
After preliminary verification, the registrar publishes the mark in the Indian Trademark Journal. If there’s no opposition raised within 3 months of publishing, the mark will be approved. Post this, the applicant receives the trademark registration certificate. However, if an opposition arises, the applicant is asked to undergo the formal procedure to make tweaks in his/her chosen mark.
Documents for Trademark Registration of a Partnership Firm
For partnership firms, the subsequent documents are required:
- Copy of chosen logo.
- Partnership Deed of the firm.
- ID proof and address proof of the signatory.
- Signed authorization form.
The process to Transfer Trademark
Sometimes companies need to transfer their registered trademarks to other entities. As it is an intellectual property of the owner company, they can also opt to sell it. Let us learn about this process in detail. Every registered trademark is assignable and transmissible. The assignment can also be done for some or all of the products or services that the trademark has been linked with. There are four ways of transferring trademark to other entities:
Complete Assignment: It includes assignment of all rights like authority to sell and earn royalties, etc.
Partial Assignment: This transfer pertains to certain goods and services only and thus it is named Partial assignment.
With Goodwill: When the trademark is transferred in goodwill, the proprietor gets to use the brand value of it too.
Without Goodwill– It suggests that the assignment of a trademark is executed just for the trademark and not for the associated brand value with it.
Application for Trademark Assignment
The application for trademark assignment/transfer could be made by Assignor/Assignee or both.
Filing Form TM-P
This step involves filing Form TM-P with all the specified details regarding the transfer.
Once the application form TM-P is filed, the applicant is required to submit all the required documents necessary for trademark assignment. The documents must be submitted to the Trademark registrar within 6 months from the date of acquisition of proprietorship.
After the documents and application are successfully submitted, it will be processed by the authority.
Advertisement of Assignment
After the application is filed to the authority, the applicant is required to make a billboard for the assignment in a way directed by the registrar. Subsequently, the copy of the direction of the registrar and advertisement of the assignment should be submitted to the Registrar’s office.
Approval of Transfer/Assignment
The registrar will verify the submitted documents alongside the application form. Once the verification is completed and the registrar is satisfied, then he will grant approval to the assignment. However, the registrar will register the assignee because the proprietor of the trademark. The registrar shall enter the assignment details within the register.
Essential Requirements for Trademark Assignment
- As per the Trademarks Act, the assignments are often done only by an agreement in writing between the parties concerned. Therefore, the assignor as well as the assignee, must execute a legal instrument for transfer of the trademark.
- It is a legal title that’s sought to be transferred to the other party. Therefore, all details regarding the trademark like name, application number, class number, etc. should be laid out clearly in the agreement.
- The operative part of the agreement should mention that the person transferring the trademark is the actual owner. The assignor should have all the rights, titles, and interests within the trademark. It should also establish that the assignor has the complete right and lawful authority to transfer the ownership of the trademark.
- A part of the agreement should also state the quantity paid by the assignee in exchange of the trademark transfer. It will establish the rights, title, and interests in the transfer for the assignee. It should also be mentioned that the transfer of trademark includes the transfer of goodwill of the brand.
Restrictions on Trademark Assignment
- The method of trademark assignment is procedural and therefore, the registrar may refuse to register a trademark assignment on some conditions.
- In case of registered trademarks, the Trademarks Act 1999 puts certain restrictions. On the assignment of a registered trademark, there exist possibilities of making confusions or interference with another mark and they should be verified.
- The restrictions on the assignment is there for creation of a prerogative for more than one person for a goods or services. Therefore, the registrar won’t allow a transfer which may give rights over a trademark to multiple parties who have an equivalent description of products or services or people who are related to one another.
Advantages of Trademark Transfer/Assignment
The benefits of assigning trademark are listed below:
Expansion of Business
It helps within the expansion of business as both the assignor and the assignee get the opportunity to collaborate with the brand.
Pre-established Brand Identity
If an entity gets the right to an already established popular brand through trademark assignment, then they don’t need to invest money or time in creating and marketing the brand through a new logo or trademark. Assignee won’t need to create a replacement brand and obtain registration.
Protection for Assignor and Assignee
For a legitimate trademark assignment, an agreement has to be executed between parties that has both the assignor and the assignee signatures. Such a legal agreement acts as a legitimate proof. It is also admissible as evidence within the court of law in case of any dispute arising among parties. Therefore, it safeguards the rights of both assignor and assignee.
So, in the previous sections we understood that there are numerous advantages of getting Trademark Registration for a Partnership Firm. It differentiates products of the firm by giving it a separate identity, gives it legal right over it, and also establishes trust among its customers. We also understood how trademark transfers are often initiated for expansion or collaboration of businesses. We looked into the details that need to be included in the agreement for such transfers.
All the above mentioned information is important for partnership firms trying to get the trademark registration or transfer. However, it should be known that both these processes are lengthy and require Fair bit of legal knowledge. Therefore, it is advised that the firms contact a reputed legal and financial consultancy to conduct these proceedings for them. This will save essential time and efforts for the organisation.