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Non-Conventional Trademarks in India

Non-Conventional Trademarks in India

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Conventionally trademark means a mark which is capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of differentiating the goods and services of one person from those of others. Trademark is any word, logo, symbol, phrase or design adopted and placed on a product that is offered for sale or on a container that is to identify its source.

The concept of Non-Conventional trademarks is becoming more and more popular over the years. Non -conventional trademark is a distinct type of trademark that does not belong to the conventional class of trademarks. Just as conventional trademarks these trademarks also uniquely identify the commercial origin of products or services. However getting these trademarks registered is often difficult as compared to traditional marks.

Further, Non-conventional trademarks may be visible signs Like colors, shapes, moving images, holograms, positions etc or non-visible signs like sounds, scents, tastes, textures etc.

Examples of Registration of Non-conventional trademarks

Color

Trademark registration of color has always been a topic of dispute. As the trademark act does not specifically provide for the registration of the single color however it does not expressly exclude the notion.

In India for the purpose of trademark registration of any color theory of "Color Depletion" is followed. This theory is based on two facts - Firstly there is a concern that with the limited number of colors, to grant exclusive rights to colors would sooner or later deplete the available stock and, thus, be anti-competitive. Secondly, if a color alone was protectable, trademark infringement suits would lead to lengthy litigations over 'shades' of color which would slow down the trademark registration process. However, the theory only bars the registration of the seven basic colors but not any shade thereof. Thus it is possible to obtain a registration for the combination of colors.

Sound

The purpose of the sound trademark registration is to uniquely identify the commercial origin of products/ services by means of an audio clip. The musical notes that can be represented in the form of musical notations are acceptable whereas the sounds which require onomatopoeic or sonogram representation are not eligible for trademark registration.

Smell

Trademark registration of the smell is not a very popular concept in India. Due to the absence of graphical representation the number of smell registrations is very less as compared to sound registrations and color registration.  Generally the representation of the smell is verbal and the verbal representation of the smell is not sufficient to distinguish one smell from the other. Further, the representation of smell can also be made through chemical formulae.  However this concept is challenged on the grounds that a chemical formula does not represent the smell of the chemical itself and that few people would be able to get a sense of the smell based on its chemical formula.

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