Category: Trademarks

Backing Up the Start-Up: Benefits of a Sound IPR Strategy

With the Indian horizon set ablaze with start-ups, the opportunity of building a full-fledged business out of a mere idea is much closer to reality now than it was a couple of decades ago. The rule of thumb in the entrepreneur industry is that two things are precious – time and money.

This is the reason why most start-ups leave it for later to develop an IPR strategy, thinking it to be the last step of setting-up shop. But, not only is it dangerous to float unprotected intellectual property in the market but it could also invite a lawsuit right at your doorstep. Start-Ups must solidify their Intellectual Property Rights Strategy in place while at a nascent stage, even if it takes a week of just reading up and educating the core team on IP.
Lately, majority of Start-Ups turn out to be innovation based ventures, their core idea being commercial exploitation of an innovative product or service, i.e., some form of intellectual property. Keeping this as the base, it then becomes mandatory for an idea based start-up to have a defined IP strategy in order to grow and reach out to the public without compromising their trade secrets.
Most Start-Ups struggle to define an IP Strategy because they do not understand it correctly. Put in simple words, an IP Strategy is coming up with a set course of action that enables a start-up to maximize the potential of their product/service, by the three-fold approach of:
  • maintaining lower costs than their competition by generating original cutting edge technology;
  • achieve higher selling prices due to uniqueness of the technology;
  • in turn, augment their market share.
An effective IP strategy ensures that the start-up maintains low cost prices as it is self-reliant in terms of technology and product creation. This leads to the conception of a unique product which will assure higher selling price as well as garner greater market share by cutting down competing products present in the market.
Taken the other way around, when a start-up holds an original product/service but does not adequately safeguard their respective IP; then markets such a potent product without developing a strong IPR strategy to monitor and back up sales, not only does it expose the product to plagiarism but also loses out on precious market share and boosted sales due to loss of originality.
Taken the other way around, when a start-up holds an original product/service but does not adequately safeguard their respective IP; then markets such a potent product without developing a strong IPR strategy to monitor and back up sales, not only does it expose the product to plagiarism but also loses out on precious market share and boosted sales due to loss of originality.
Securing Intellectual Property gives a Start-Up the freedom to operate in showcasing their unique products or technology. Google patented their Page Rank patent way back in 1998 when they didn’t even have a sustainable development plan to commercialize the patent. [Source:].Had Google not thought of patenting this core idea of ranking pages as per their document citations, it would have been hit by copycats across the World diluting the service and capitalizing on Google’s ὰ la mode system.
Another significant pre-production aspect that is directly linked to intellectual property strategy is venture capital. Generally, Start-Ups are found bootstrapping their way into setting up and are on a constant look-out for capital investment. Here, a neat IP Strategy goes a long way in attracting sound investments, as investors tend to rely on patents and other IP in evaluating the potential of a start-up.
Investors mostly see patents and other intellectual property as valuable assets that can fetch future gains. To them, protected intellectual property equals the faith of a start-up founder in their product or service. This does not mean that a start-up must have granted patents under its sleeve to fare well at a VC funding, but must have made patent applications before looking for funding.
In the same breath, where a start-up has not taken any steps to secure Intellectual Property or have not formalized an IP strategy, the investor can be put off in pouring capital into such an unguarded product. Further, venture capitalists are known to pull out funding at the last moment as a result of unsecure IP, which can prove lethal for a start-up.
The brief history of Start-Ups has amply demonstrated that it is as valuable to develop an effective IP strategy for start-ups as it is to generate new and exciting technologies. Start-Ups have changed the face of corporate set-ups on an international level, but only with the help of safeguarding and protective measures that are no more just vague notions but solid and well-defined concepts.
Article By: Sonia Chauhan – Senior Attorney (Originally published in : Spicy IP)


How To Trademark Your Logo

Imagine a person who have invested a huge amount of time, money and effort to build a brand, goodwill in an individual’s or a customer’s mind. One day, he finds out that his brand name or logo is already registered by another person and he no longer can use it. To avoid this situation and to protect the brand name or logo, its identity and goodwill one should get their logo registered as soon as they start using it. Well, the good news is – Getting a logo trademarked in India is a very simple process.
A registered trademark or logo is not restricted to just a brand name, but if used properly it can become the most valuable asset of a business. Any company, individual or a legal entity can apply for the Trademark Registration of his/her logo. The Trademark Registration process generally takes around 8 to 24 months. However, for the time being, an person who has made such application can use the symbol “TM” with his logo mark and later on when the logo is registered and the Registration certificate is issued, the symbol “R” may be used with the logo mark. As per the Trademark Act, a trademark once registered is valid for a period of 10 years, which can be renewed from time to time.
What is a Logo?
Before getting a logo registered, one should know what a logo actually is. In simple terms, a logo can be any signature, name, label, device, numerals or combination of colors and fonts used to represent his business, primarily to distinguish their brand from other similar goods or services operating in the same market domain.
In India, the process of getting a logo or Trademark Registered is governed by the Controller General of Patents Design and Trademarks, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. A logo once registered gives the owner an exclusive right to sue for damages in case of any trademark infringement under the Trademarks Act, 1999. The Trademark Registry also have the power to refuse Trademark Registration if the mark or logo to be registered is deceptively similar with an existing registered mark or logo or is offensive or is likely to cause deception or confusion.
Getting the Logo Trademarked
      • 1st Step – Trademark Search: This search is conducted by a Trademark Attorney to check whether the logo is similar to an earlier registered logo. This search can be done by both ways, online and also offline. One should proceed to the next step only after the Trademark Attorney is satisfied that the logo is unique.
      • 2nd Step – Drafting a Trademark Application: Once the logo mark or brand name is found to be unique, the Trademark Attorney shall draft a Trademark Application, i.e. Form TM- 1. The Government Cost of the Application form is INR 4000 and is a one time fee for each class.
        Along with Form TM – 1, the following supporting documents are also needed:-
        I. An identity proof of the Director of the company along with address proof.
        II. A picture of a brand logo.
      • 3rd Step – Filing the Trademark Application: The Trademark Application can be filed by 2 ways, manual filling and e- filling. The Manual filling is done by personally going to any office of the Registrar of Trademarks located in Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. The acknowledgement of the application and the receipt in this process is received generally after 15-20 days from filling. The e filing process is more convenient and quicker, because here the acknowledgment receipt is received immediately. After the owner of the logo mark receives the acknowledgement, he is eligible to use the symbol “TM” along with his logo.
      • 4th Step – Examination of the Registration Application by the Registrar: After the Application is received by the Registry, the Registrar checks whether the logo is similar or deceptively similar to any registered logos or mark or any pending logos or marks.
      • 5th Step – Publication in the Indian Trademarks Journal: Once the logo mark is examined by the Registrar of Trademarks and no objection is found, the logo mark is then published in the Trademark Journal. A stipulated time period of three months is provided by the Trademark Registry if any third party wish to oppose the registration of the proposed logo mark.
      • 6th Step – Trademark Registration Certificate: If no objection is raised within a stipulated period of three months, a Registration Certificate is issued by the Trademark Registry. Now the owner of the logo mark can use the registered trademark symbol “R” along with his logo.

Getting the logo trademarked can be a lengthy process, but it is absolutely essential to get it registered to gain legal protection for one’s brand.

Article By: Sunchet Thareja – Legal Associate