What is a trademark?

Trademarks are signs that help distinguish products (goods or services) of one producer from another. They can be words, marks, phrases, symbols or a combination of all of these. As a consumer, we see trademarks all around us; the bitten apple for an iPhone, the large yellow M or the tag ‘I’m lovin’ it’ for McDonald’s, or the black tick for Nike.[1]


Trademarks help consumers identify the products of a manufacturer in the market. Trademark is a very valuable asset for any manufacturer. It provides a competitive edge over other products.


Trademarks in India are governed by the Trade Marks Act, 1999. Registration of a trademark gives the owner an exclusive right to use the trademark. A trademark is registered for a period of 10 years and can be renewed once the period expires.


Protection is usually granted when another trader uses an identical or deceptively similar mark to that of a bonafide user. Registered trademarks are protected by infringement proceedings and unregistered by passing off proceedings. For example, we find shoes with ‘adibas’ written on it instead of ‘adidas’. The mark ‘adibas’ is deceptively similar to ‘adidas’, whereby deceiving the consumer about the source of the goods and eroding the legitimate trademark owners’ goodwill over his product. Under the Trademarks Act, both civil and criminal remedies are simultaneously available for both infringement and passing off.[2]

Trademarks serve both consumers and manufacturers. They help consumers identify quality products whereas manufacturers acquire a customer base  by using trademarks to disting their products from other similar products.

[1] http://karich.net/what-is-a-trademark-or-service-mark/

[2] Section 135, Trademarks Act, 1999.


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