You are buzzing with new ideas and energy. Along with your friend, you start a small but innovative web service which is supposed to revolutionize e-commerce. Amazed with your brilliant commercial model, angels pump funds into your infant company. All is going well, so far. Until D-day. Six hours after the launch of your web service, you get a threatening letter from a market giant accusing of trademark infringement. A dicey situation to be in.
Similar is the case of OkTataByeBye. Back in 2009, MakeMyTrip had launched a travel recommendations website portal OkTataByeBye. Tata group sued MakeMyTrip stating that ‘Tata’ in OkTataByeBye was very similar to TATA, would cause confusion in the minds of the consumers and hence should be discontinued. TATA won the case and OkTataByeBye had to be discontinued.
This post tells you how to avoid this situation and why trademarks are important. A mark is a word, name, symbol, device (or combination of those) used in business to indicate a source of the goods (your business) and to distinguish those goods from those sold by another business. A trademark is the means to legally register the identity associated with your product or services. Getting a trademark registered ensures legal protection for your mark.
From a market competition perspective, Trademarks are important tools in getting the upper hand. In the sense that a registered Trademark for your product/ service makes sure that your competitors do not use names, logos or symbols even remotely similar to your Trademark for selling their goods. A fitting case in this context is the recent Trademark litigation won by Amul, a well-known milk producer against Milk Producer’s Co-operative Union in West Bengal who sought to Trademark a name ‘Imul’ for selling milk products. More details here.
Additionally, it helps you show that you have not illegally adopted anybody’s mark. Therefore, it shifts onus on the accusing party to show that you have infringed their mark. Essentially getting a trademark ensures that you have the upper hand while dealing with trademark litigation.
Additionally, a registered trademark ensures that no one can use the mark even if you are not in the market yet.
For budding companies working hard to bring out innovative products and services to the market, it is definitely a wise move to put an effort in getting a Trademark registered before it is too late!