MSMEs have been supported by the government since the COVID-19 slowdown. These new entities need to make a different mark for themselves to grow their business. Trademark registration ensures a unique brand identity for the companies and MSMEs. Thus, applying for trademark registration is one of the foremost steps in the formation of companies. The trademark registration for MSMEs is an easy and cost-effective process. Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises have also realized the worth of trademark registration therefore, they are also going forward with it. In the following sections, we will understand the process of trademark registration for MSMEs.
To define precisely, a trademark can be defined as a symbol or a unique design that helps in identification and distinguishing the source of products of one company from the other. A service trademark isn’t only for goods offered by the firm but also for its services. It can be defined as the symbol or design to identify and distinguish the source of service. The registration process is similar for Trademarks and Service Marks. A trademark can sometimes be employed as a generic term for both trademark and other identification marks. TM is the acronym used for Trademark, and SM is used for Service Mark.
Trademark Registration for MSMEs
Before moving on to understand the process of registering a trademark for MSME, a firm should first go through its registration process. Udyog Aadhaar Registration scheme was started by the Indian Government to encourage and facilitate starting and expansion of small-sized enterprises in India. The registration scheme gives many benefits to MSMEs in India. Applicants can apply for the registration on the official website by applying online. Now, let us get into the process of understanding trademark registration for MSMEs.
Process of MSME Trademark Registration
Trademark helps the consumers in differentiating one brand from the other. It could be a number, a word, any phrase, or colour palette that can set a business apart from others. Trademarks are often used to create a brand image for a corporation. The trademark registration process for MSMEs helps them to secure legal protection of their name, logo, or symbol, etc. It acts as the primary step of building the name for any MSME.
The subsequent entities are eligible to used as a Trademark in India:
- Letter, words, numbers;
- Any unique colour combination;
- Symbol, Phrases, Logo
- Any Sound Mark
- Graphic design.
Any prospective trademark that bears any resemblance to any other existing trademark won’t be accepted for registration by the trademark registry. Aside from that, individuals or corporations won’t be allowed to use a trademark that may deceive or confuse the public.
Likewise, trademark with the subsequent words cannot be registered:
- Offensive words or other such symbols;
- Common Names;
- Any Geographical Name;
- Common abbreviations or acronyms
Benefits of MSME Trademark Registration
Trademark registration for an MSME has the following advantages:
Legal Protection to Organisation
It helps an organisation to become the legal owner of a registered trademark. No one else has the right to use an existing registered trademark or any logo similar to it. It should be noted that no action is taken if the trademark is not registered with the Government. A registered trademark holder can enforce action against those who try to repeat the use of an existing trademark.
Creation of a Recognised Asset
A registered Trademark acts as a recognised asset for the owners as they can easily sell or allow it on contract basis to a different party. Thus, it acts like a creative property for an equivalent.
A registered trademark creates trust, goodwill, and raises the standard in the minds of customers.
Gives Unique Identity to Company
One of the benefits of trademark registration is that it helps in establishing a singular identity for the corporate. No other competitive organisation can apply or use the trademark for goods and services.
Popularisation of Brand
Registration of trademark with the government makes it easier to popularise and market the brand. It also helps in expansion of business within or outside India.
Points to Consider before Trademark Registration
The following points should be known:
- Before applying for trademark registration, one must understand which class to register it under. To make the classification process smooth, there are 45 classes notified by the government.
- MSME owners should consider contacting a legal professional or financial consultant to know the method of trademark registration and apply in the appropriate way. It helps in prevention of unwanted delays in the process.
- The companies should consider applying for the registration as soon as possible as the process could take a while.
- Trademark is territorial in nature and thus, a trademark obtained in India is only valid in India and not in the foreign territories. In case someone wants global protection, they need to apply for it in that country individually.
- A trademark’s validity is for a period of 10 years from the date of filing the application. Applicants should ensure that they apply for renewal of the trademark within the valid time period.
- After application for the trademark registration, one can use the ™ symbol beside the logo as a sign that they have filed for registration. After the application is approved, a company gets a registration certificate and then they can use the ® symbol.
Documents Required for Registration
The following documents are needed for registration of a Trademark:
- Address proof (Driving license/Passport/Aadhaar card or Voter Card) and ID Proof (PAN/Passport) of the owner.
- Address proof of the firm;
- Certificate of incorporation of firm and the partnership deed;
- A Copy of trademark or logo; and
- Udyog registration certificate in case of an MSME.
It is hereby advised to owners that they register brand name and trademark before they start marketing of the merchandise. This is because the name or trademark might change at this stage if it is similar to an existing one.
All trademark registrations are territorial in nature and therefore, if an MSME wants to expand their business in foreign countries, then they ought to register their trademark in the respective countries.
Purposes of Trademark Registration
- The purpose of the Trademark is to distinguish the source of the goods or service.
- It assures the standard for the merchandise/goods/services.
- It helps to set up exclusive ownership of the Trademark as an intellectual property of the brand.
Different Types of Trademarks
The more unique the trademark, the more protected it will be from duplicacy or repetition. A trademark brings a specific blend of ingenuity/uniqueness that makes it different from others to qualify. These trademarks are registered only if they represent a standard for the merchandise but not in the literal sense. Imagination and creativity from the applicant’s end is important to contribute to the Trademark.
Such sort of trademarks are used by film and television production houses. In this type, there are company visuals formed through graphics with accompanying sound effects signifying the work of the company.
A logo protects the creative measure done for differentiating the corporate logo. There’s uniqueness given to every aspect of its visual representation in a logo like the sort of font used or any other specific modifications.
It is generally used as the mark of a multimedia organisation. It is generally an animated logo that plays in a loop or as a one-time clip.
It refers to words which are totally unrelated to the merchandise or organisation. The efforts of the creator should specialise in the buildup of these words. The words generally use a new semantic association of words.
Example: The names that use fruits as the brand name. For example: cellphone brands like Blackberry or Apple. Other examples include clothing brands like Mango. The success of those uncommon words and their combination defines the effective and careful property Management.
This type of trademark represents the outline of the words which are utilized in a common parlance. However, for words like “hotel, food, market, and watch,” no registration of Trademark is offered. These words are for public use and they might not be able to offer a monopoly over such a generic set of words. The corporate has to add another modifier to its products or these generic words to qualify for the generic mark registration. This ensures a unique name for the brand and non-repeatability.
This type of trademark registration needs a replacement word that is aimed at the target public. It requires creative thought before the formation of such terms. The company should carefully examine its user base and therefore the perception of the brand among its target audience.
This type of trademark registration is employed for brands rendering services. This sort of Trademark differentiates one organization from a competitive organisation giving similar service. For Example American Airlines, Air Asia, Etihad Airlines, Emirates, Air India etc.
For these trademarks, registration is completed by the organization or group or associations. This mark helps to differentiate the whole group from competitors.
In this kind of registration, the mark is used to define specific standards. It explains that the company meets a specific standard if certification is granted.
Example: FSSAI Logo, BSI hallmark, AGMARK Logo, ISI Mark.
It refers to the sort of trademark registration where the products of the one manufacturer are distinguished from the other manufacturer.
Example: ITC or AMUL.
It refers to registration of the mark similar to the actual shape of the merchandise due to its distinctive design.
Example: Shape of Coca Cola Shape, KitKat Shape.
This kind of trademark registration covers the attributes of packaging and interior/exterior design. It also covers the shape in which the brand appears. It covers the aesthetics but not the functional aspects of the products.
It identifies or classifies the company or manufacturing firm. The sole difference here is that the House mark is placed ahead of the actual product names.
It is almost the same as a house mark but different within the formation. Here the abbreviations used are an equivalent of the company but not its name.
It is a type of trademark which is used within the apparel or fashion industry. The aim of the designs is to give uniqueness to the brand on the canvas of apparels.
This type of trademark shows three (3-D) pictures which are shown within a holographic device. They are often attached to the goods to ensure authenticity of the products.
The purpose of trademark registration is to supply a recognized classification for the products and services given by a company. To explain it simply, the products and services are classified/divided into different categories notified by the government. As discussed before, there have been approximately 45 classes in which a trademark could be registered. Out of this, 34 categories are associated with goods and rest are associated with services.
As the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in India gains momentum after the COVID-19 induced slowdown, it might be a good idea for Indian MSMEs to organize and get their own trademarks. For MSME trademark registration a company is recommended to consult a reputed financial and legal consultancy firm. The experts at these firms can help companies in navigating through various know-hows of the process.