“Brand Theft!! Start-ups Beware!!!”
Around a week ago, I got a call from a hassled youth. He seemed quiet messed up in his head. I could not make out a lick of a sense of what he spoke for the first three minutes. Eventually when I could calm him down, what he told me was quiet shocking, though not uncommon. He was the co-founder of an e-commerce start-up. He had got his company incorporated through us only just a year before. I remember asking him to get the name of his company trademarked since it was quiet unique and definitely ‘brand-worthy’. He responded quiet casually on this saying that he would eventually get this done in a year or two. Right then, he had to concentrate on developing his business. He got pretty well off with his venture and was thinking of internationally expanding. Now, after 11 months and 26 days of operations and a kitty of over 7000 recurring clients, he has been slapped with a legal notice. Few of his so to say customers have filed a case against his company for scamming them of their money. They claimed having ordered products through his website which never reached them. Needless to say, they had not opted for Cash On Delivery. Now, this guy was completely at a loss. His company has never even heard of these customers. A detailed probe into the matter brought out the real picture. The website that the customers have been ordering from was never owned by this company in question. Cashing on the popularity of this company, a group of people had formed this website and conducting their business with the same brand name. I am sure after a detailed legal process, he would come out clean because he has substantial documentary proofs in his favor. But the hassle he has to go through and the negative publicity around his brand has come with a hefty cost. This is a very common case of Brand Theft. Brand Theft in India has been present for quite a long time now. Some cases remain obscure and hence do not come to our notice. However, in recent times, this has become quite a common phenomenon. This especially is a problem for start-ups and SMEs since most of the times they do not have a pre-established brand or sufficient reach to come out of this. An even worst case scenario is when the legal name of the company is different from the brand name. Many times, start-ups do not get their desired name as legal name for their company because the RoC does not approve of the same. In such cases, they start off the company with a separate legal name and operate through their desired brand name. There is no harm in it. But there might come such scenarios like the one mentioned above. So what is the solution? How do you protect your business name? There is a very simple solution-Trademark!
What does Trademarking do?
Trademark is a symbol, word, phrase, logo, or combination of these that legally distinguishes one company’s product from any others. Any infringement on a trademark is illegal. For example: A globally recognized trademarked logo is Coca-Cola’s wave. Now, if any other company tries woo consumers by using the same logo, this would directly tantamount to the infringement of Coca-Cola’s trademark rights thereby giving Coca-Cola the right to sue the infringing party.
Why trademarking is Important?
Simply put, to maintain your Identity. Trademarking will not only make sure of your entity’s uniqueness, but it would also bestow on you the following advantages:
- Right to sue and claim damages in cases of infringement
- The right to use ® in your trademark
- Add to the Worth of your business by adding to the Intellectual Property value to your entity
- Gives you an upper hand while pitching for funding
- A streamlined process for securing your domains and usernames on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
Common Misconceptions regarding Obtaining Trademark
More often than not, Trademarks, copyrights, patents and all such Intellectual Property Rights are often associated with heavy legal costs and cumbersome documentation. Trust me on this, reality is just the opposite. Until and unless the subject matter of your trademark is a common object or controversial in nature, you can just sit back and get your Trademark in your hand. In India, the minimum time limit for obtaining a registered trademark is 18-24 months. But once you file the application for trademark, you have the preferential right over the other applications filed after you. You would also be entitled to use ™ with the brand name of the company. Filing a trademark on own can take up to 1-3 months, but at Taxmantra, we can get it turned around in just 72 hours. So, what are you waiting for? Get your own trademark NOW! Write to us at [email protected] to file your application right away. __________________________________________________________________________________________________