Applying for trademark registration is a simple but lengthy process. The real work behind brand protection actually begins when the trademark registration process ends and the owner receives the trademark Registration Certificate from the Trade Marks Registry. It is of utmost importance to ensure that once the trademark is registered, it retains all values and efforts that the owner has put into establishing it. Trademark protection requires sufficient planning and constant vigilance.
Here are a few tips that help in the proper use, maintenance and protection of a registered trademark –
– A trademark will only be considered registered and active until it is timely renewed. It is important to notify the Registrar of Trade Marks that a trademark is valid and still in use. A trademark, once registered, is valid for a term of 10 years from the date of filing the trademark application. A request for trademark renewal can be filed within 6 months before the expiry of the said period of 10 years, and within 6 months after the expiry of the registration term of 10 years. If the request to renew the trademark is not filed within this stipulated time period along with the requisite fee, then the trademark is removed by the authorities and is said to be abandoned due to non-renewal. Hence, on should keep a constant watch on the trademarks renewal dates as only timely renewal ensures trademark existence and brand protection.
Using Correct Trademark Symbols –
As per the rules laid down by the Trade Marks Registry, a trademark owner is legally bound to use “TM” symbol with his mark till the time such mark is not registered. Once the trademark is successfully registered, the owner can use the small circled “R” symbol. This “R” is not just a symbol, but it is a public notice of registration and is certified as proper use of the trademark by the Registrar of Trademarks.
Thus, after registration, the trademark owner, to ensure proper use of “R” symbol, must use this on his product packaging or label, marketing or advertising logo, website, etc.
New Trademark Filings – A registered trademark owner has the complete authority to file opposition proceedings against any new trademark application which he may feels can, or is infringing his mark. To ensure non-infringement, a trademark owner must conduct a regular trademark check on the trademark journals published every week. This could also be done with the help of a Trademark Attorney.
Undertaking regular trademark watch also ensures that the Trade Marks Registry does not weaken or tarnish the value of a registered trademark by registering marks that could be too similar to existing trademarks.
Monitor the Market – To ensure proper use and protection of the trademark, the owner should go beyond the Trade Marks Registry database and also be watchful of any suspicious entity operating in the market that may be illicitly using a mark which may be similar to his or her trademark.
If the owner of a trademark does not oppose a similar infringing mark in a timely and prompt manner, it gives the infringing party an alibi to claim such a mark on the grounds that the latter mark has been strengthened enough to be legitimate or the infringer could challenge the earlier trademark on grounds of non-enforcement.
So, to ensure proper protection of a registered trademark, one must act within the rights of enforcement and take proper legal advice before taking any action against an opposing party as professional consultation goes a long way in generating best practices for brand protection and efficient resolution of legal impediments.