A well-known trademark is widely recognized by the general public and associated with a popular company or brand. Unlike a regular registered trademark, which is protected only within specific classes of goods or services and geographic locations, well-known trademarks enjoy broader protection across all classes and locations. Moreover, well-known trademarks enjoy protection even if they are not registered under the Trademark Act.
Examples of well-known trademarks include brand names like Tata, Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike, McDonald’s, Google, and Amazon. These brand names are recognized globally and are highly valuable assets for their respective owners.
Obtaining the status of a well-known trademark requires proving widespread recognition of your trademark among the general public, preferably on a global level. The process involves presenting substantial evidence of the mark’s reputation, considering factors such as the extent and duration of use, promotion, registrations, successful enforcement of intellectual property rights, and commercial value associated with the mark.
Before the Trademark Rules 2017, well-known marks in India were determined by Indian Courts and Tribunals, and a list of such marks was compiled by the Trademark Registry. However, after the introduction of Trademark Rules 2017, trademark owners can now apply for well-known mark status. The criteria for determining a well-known trademark are now laid out in Sections 11(6) to 11(9) of the Trademark Rules.
No, even if a trademark belongs to a different class of goods or services compared to a well-known mark, it cannot be used if it is similar to the well-known mark. Well-known trademarks enjoy broader protection, preventing the use of similar marks in any class or service across all geographical locations.
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