Introduction

The monopoly era does not exist anymore. With some exceptions, people can carry on every type of business. Hence, there are people with a similar business, resulting in increased competition. Many similar products are available, creating confusion amongst the buyers. Some people also started selling fake products which created the need for a trademark. A trademark helps the buyer to ascertain the authenticity of the product and its true seller. But people avoid registering a trademark considering it is a lengthy process.

The trademark ministry has become more pro-active and made the process of registering a trademark much faster. Earlier, the trademark registration process would take 15-18 months to register a trademark, but now the trademark registration process takes 6-8 months if it is without any objections. Here are the trademark registration steps along with the timeline.


Here are a few steps in the registration of a trademark:

Trademark Application 

The collection of documents, drafting, and filing of trademark application will take 2-3 working days. Once the trademark is applied for, one can start using “TM” sign on the brand name or logo as per the application.

Send to Vienna Codification

It is a part of the trademark registration process. If the trademark includes figurative elements or logo, then all such applications will be processed under Vienna codification. A Vienna code is assigned to it as per the Vienna Agreement. It enables the trademark search of a logo for internal use. Since it is an internal procedure of the Ministry, it takes approximately 3-5 working days.

Formality Check Fail 

The next step in trademark registration process is to examine the application. Here the Ministry checks basic information filled in the application and attached documents. It will verify whether all the information is entered correctly or not. Verification of the information such as ‘translation’ or ‘transliteration’ in case of use of a language other than English or Hindi. It checks the type of applicant and whether its details match with the POA or not. If any user date is claimed, then the valid documents are attached or not. If the ministry finds any defects in the application then the status will turn to Formalities Check Fail”.

Reply to Formality check fail 

If the application is in the stage of Formality check fail then the reply has to be filed within 30 days of receipt. The reply with a correction in the application as asked by the Ministry must be filed within a said period, otherwise, the Ministry may order to abandon the application.

Formality check pass 

If there is no deficiency in the application or after filing the reply to the formality check fail, the application will be marked as “Formality check pass”. The first stage of the process gets cleared and proceeds to the next stage. The process may take 7-10 working days.

Marked for Examination

In this stage, the Ministry checks the brand name or logo applied under various sections of the Trademark Act. Accordingly, the ministry will issue an examination report either objecting or accepting the trademark. The process takes around 10-15 working days.

Objection and Reply

Here Ministry compares the trademark with other applications and registered marks. If it is found similar to any other brand name or logo then the ministry will raise an objection.  Further, it will also raise an objection if the brand name is not capable of being distinguished from others or it directly shows the characteristics of the goods or service such as the kind, quality, quantity, purpose, value, geographic origin.

If the trademark is under Objection then the reply to the objection must be filed to the ministry within 30 days from the receipt of such examination report. If the applicant fails to file the reply in such time period then the trademark will get abandoned.

Hearing

In case of objection raised by the ministry, the applicant can either file a reply to the objection or can request for a  hearing with the officer. Further, in case the examiner is in need of more clarification or is not satisfied with the reply to the objection then the officer will schedule a hearing before rejecting any application. Here the status will remain as ready for show cause hearing until the date of hearing is scheduled. The duration is not fixed as the hearings will be processed by the Ministry on first come first serve basis.

Accepted & Advertised

The application will be accepted and advertised in the trademark journal in the following cases:

If;

  • There are no objections raised in the examination report.
  • The reply to the objection is found satisfactory by the officer.
  • An applicant is able to clear the application in the hearing. 

In all these cases, the trademark will be published in the trademark journal for 4 months. Trademark journal publishes all such trademarks which are about to get registered.

Opposition

Any party can raise opposition against the registration of a trademark within 4 months of publication of trademark in the journal. In case of no opposition, the trademark will be processed further for registration.

Counter Statement 

If the applicant receives a third party opposition within the span of 4 months then he has to file a reply. The reply must be filed within 2 months from the receipt of notice of opposition. If it is not filed then the ministry will abandon the trademark. After which the opponent will get one more chance to file the reply against the reply of the applicant. Again the applicant will get a 2 months period to file second counter statement. Non-filing of which results in an abandoned trademark.

Hearing 

The last stage of opposition is the hearing. Here both the sides will be allowed to argue and put forth their statements.  After hearing both sides the officer will pass necessary order. If the order is in the favour of the applicant then the trademark will get registered otherwise it will get abandoned.

Registration

The applicant will receive the trademark certificate under the following circumstances:

  • If no opposition is raised– after the completion of 4 months of publishing a trademark in the journal.
  • In case opposition– when an officer passes the order of hearing in favour of the applicant.   

In both cases, the applicant will be granted the trademark registration certificate in a month which ends the trademark registration process. The applicant can use the “R” sign with its brand name or logo after receiving the trademark registration certificate. The ministry does not issue any physical copy of the certificate, it can be downloaded online from the trademark portal after entering the application number.

Conclusion

The trademark application goes through many stages and hence takes time. But if the brand name is unique then one can get the registration certificate in around 6 to 8 months. The application is processed through the Trademark ministry so the processing time completely depends on government processing time. The processing time may vary from case to case. Hence one should choose a unique brand name to avoid a longer registration period.

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