What are Trademarks? | Understanding Trademarks and Their Importance

Trademarks are unique or distinct marks of identity associated with a business entity, for instance, its brand name, trade name, symbol, logo, slogan, tagline, theme tune, or a combination of colours. These are used to distinguish the goods or services of a particular business from those of other businesses, especially its competitors in the market. The main objective behind possessing unique trademarks by businesses is building a strong brand recognition with a loyal consumer base.

Definition of Trademarks under the Trademark Act, 1999

In India, Trademarks are regulated under the Trademarks Act of 1999. The Act defines Trademarks under Section 2(m) as device marks, brand names, headings, labels, ticket names, signatures, words, letters, numerals, shape of goods, packaging or a combination of colours appearing individually or in combination with each other. Furthermore, Section 2(zb) of the Act states that trademarks are marks capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one person from those of the others.
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Types of Trademarks:

Trademarks can take many forms which can essentially be categorised into

Word Marks:

Word Marks: Wordmarks are a type of trademark that consists solely of words or letters, without any design element. It could either include a company’s brand name, trade name or product name that distinguishes its goods and services from other businesses in the market. Examples of well-known wordmarks include Google, Coca-Cola, Nike, etc. Wordmarks are often used by companies to protect their established name and reputation in the market and protect them from being used by other businesses of the same industry.

Device Marks:

A device mark is a type of trademark that includes a distinctive design, symbol, logo, image, or graphic element used to identify and distinguish the goods or services of a particular business. Unlike wordmarks, which consist solely of words or letters, device marks incorporate a visual element that is designed to communicate the business’s brand. Examples of well-known device marks include Apple’s logo, Nike’s “Swoosh” or “Check Mark” label, and Target’s bullseye logo. Device marks are often used by businesses to create a unique visual identity and establish a strong brand recognition among consumers.

Service Marks:

When a trademark is specifically used for services, it is commonly referred to as a service mark. Examples of service marks include DHL, HILTON, and INFOSYS. However, as the distinction between goods and services isn’t always clear-cut, the term “trademark” is often used to encompass service marks as well.

Some Popular Trademark Examples

  • Wordmarks: OREO, NESTLE, COLGATE
  • Surnames: FORD, KODAK, PHILIPS
  • Signatures: RALPH LAUREN
  • Letters: KFC, LG, PUMA
  • Numerals: 7-ELEVEN, CHANEL NO. 5
  • Color schemes: BARBIE’s PINK, UPS’s BROWN, COCA-COLA’s RED & WHITE
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Note: Remember that the brand names mentioned above are registered trademarks of their respective companies and are used here for illustrative purposes only.

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