Trademarks – How Important are they?

Being different from the rest always gathers prominence. Any commercial/ non-commercial product or service needs a certain degree of uniqueness to get their potential customers. Such distinctive character of a product usually becomes the registered trademark of a brand. However, a trademark may not necessarily be a distinct physical entity. Any attribute of a product or service that uniquely identifies itself with the customers can become a trademark. So a distinct smelling perfume, a unique hairstyle, a design, sound, name, word, logo, a combination of few attributes or anything that qualifies being distinct can become a trademark.

The origin of trademarks can be traced back to the ancient period when some craftsmen used to put their signature as a token of identity on their works. Over a period of time such signatures / marks made way for other distinctive attributes of an entity. Among such attributes, a logo gradually gained precedence over a period of time. A business logo is a symbol, abbreviation, name or a visual illustration that is used by a company to make their brand identifiable to the public. Today logo has become a media through which the companies communicate the nature and distinctiveness of their products to the customers. All companies want their logo to be the registered trademark of their brand.

The primary reason behind such importance of a logo as a trademark is its visual appeal. Whenever we think of a commercial entity, we visualize their logo first. Visual representation, in most cases is perceived better than any other form of representation. So a logo with a distinct appeal that communicates the message well to the outer world is usually the preferred trademark for any brand.

A trademark plays a major role towards the success and popularity of a brand and thus it has the risk of being infringed upon. To avoid such infringements, business owners should get their trademark registered first. This will not only give them the right to use it exclusively for their product but also will discourage the competitors from copying it. However, not all trademarks are eligible for registration. The inherent feature of a trademark is its distinctiveness. So it’s a priority for a logo, a design, a smell or any other feature of an entity to be distinct in nature to be eligible of being a trademark.

To qualify as a trademark, the particular characteristic of a product/ service should either be:

– A never-before feature,

– A common word used for products not related with the dictionary meaning of such a word. E.g.: the word "Orange" being used as a trademark for a UK based mobile phone company.

– A suggestive mark that describes one or more attributes of a product or service.

– A descriptive mark that describes a particular product or service and is in line with the dictionary meaning. However such marks should have a distinct character to be eligible of becoming a trademark.

Apart from the above, a generic name, in most cases fails to qualify as a trademark for an entity. Thus, while the word “Orange” can be a registered trademark for a mobile phone company, the same might not qualify as a trademark for an agro based company that produces oranges.

So, business owners should carefully choose the feature of their product that they wish to be highlighted as a trademark. It is wise to seek valuable advise from companies specializing in brand promotions, intellectual property rights and logo designing to get valuable inputs in this regard. The money you pay for such a consultation is meager in comparison to the manifold benefits that a potentially good trademark can generate for your business in future.