Do you know how to check if a name is copyrighted in India? When it comes to establishing a unique brand identity in a competitive market, choosing a unique and distinctive name is vital.

However, ensuring that your chosen name is not already copyrighted can sometimes be challenging, especially in a volatile market such as India, home to a multitude of businesses and enterprises.

Checking if a name is copyrighted involves understanding the laws of intellectual property rights, specifically copyright and trademark law.

While copyright typically applies to creative and artistic works, it is the realm of trademarks that often protects names, logos, and slogans.

Can We Copyright Names in India?

In India, it’s important to clarify that names, titles, slogans, or even short word combinations generally cannot be copyrighted.

Copyright, as per the Copyright Act, 1957, is an intellectual property right granted for original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, cinematograph films, and sound recordings.

However, names can be protected under the different domain of intellectual property law: the Trademark law.

A trademark can be a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements.

Its primary function is to uniquely identify the source of goods or services.

Under the Trade Marks Act, 1999, names used in commerce can be registered and protected as trademarks, preventing others from using the same or confusingly similar names for their businesses or products.

So, while you can’t copyright a name in India, you can register it as a trademark to prevent others from using it without permission.

Trademark Registration Process for Names

Registering a name as a trademark in India involves several steps. Here is a basic outline of the process:

 Trademark Search

Before you apply for trademark registration, conduct a thorough search in the Indian Trademark Registry database to ensure that your desired name is not identical or similar to any existing trademarks.

You can do this online through the official website of the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks.

File an Application

If the name is available, you can file an application for trademark registration.

The application must be filed using Form TM-A, which can be found on the official website.

The application can be filed online through the comprehensive e-filing services of trademarks available at IP India’s official website.

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Examination Report

After receiving your application, the Registrar will examine the trademark as per the provisions of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

If the Registrar has any objections, an examination report will be issued within one month of filing the application.

 Response to Examination Report

The applicant must respond to the objections raised in the examination report within a month.

If the response is satisfactory and all objections have been addressed, the application will move to the next stage.

If the objections are not addressed, the application may be refused.

Advertisement in Trademarks Journal

If there are no objections or if the response is satisfactory, the trademark will be published in the Trademarks Journal, which is available on the official IP India website.

This is to invite the public to file opposition proceedings if they believe the registration of the trademark would harm their interests.

Opposition by Public

Any person can file notice of opposition within four months of the advertisement.

If no opposition is filed within this period, the trademark will proceed towards registration.

If there is opposition, a hearing will be held before a decision is made.

Trademark Registration

If no opposition is filed or if the opposition is decided in favor of the applicant, the Registrar will register the trademark.

Upon registration, a certificate of registration is issued to the applicant.

Renewal

A trademark registration is valid for a period of 10 years. It can be renewed indefinitely on payment of the renewal fees every 10 years.

How to Check if a Name is Copyrighted in India?

As previously mentioned, it’s important to note that names are not typically copyrighted in India but are instead protected under trademark law.

If you want to check whether a name is protected, you would be looking for a registered trademark. Here are the steps to do that:

Visit the Official Indian Trademark Search Database

The Indian government provides an online tool to search for registered trademarks.

This is available on the website of the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks, under the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Choose the Right Search Option

 The search tool offers two options: ‘Wordmark’ and ‘Vienna Code’. Select ‘Wordmark’ for name search.

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Enter the Correct Details

In the ‘Wordmark’ option, you need to enter the name you want to check in the ‘Wordmark’ box.

Choose the class of goods or services relevant to your business from the ‘Class’ dropdown menu.

For example, if you are planning to start a restaurant, you would choose Class 43, which pertains to food and drink services.

Conduct the Search

Click on ‘Search’. The database will show a list of trademarks that match or closely resemble your search terms.

Evaluate the Results

 If the name you searched for appears in the results, it means that the name is already registered or an application for registration is in process.

Each entry will show the status of the trademark, giving you a good idea of its current standing.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the process of verifying if a name is copyrighted, or more accurately, trademarked, in India is a critical step for anyone intending to establish a business or a brand.

This process involves understanding the distinction between copyright and trademark rights, conducting a comprehensive search in the official Indian Trademark Database, and interpreting the results accurately to avoid any legal disputes in the future.

Remember, while names can’t be copyrighted, they can indeed be registered and protected under trademark law.

This can offer exclusive rights to use that name in the specified class of goods or services.

If you’re unsure about any of these steps, consulting with an intellectual property lawyer or a trademark registration professional can provide the necessary guidance and expertise.

Ensuring that the name you choose for your brand is unique and legally clear is a solid foundation for your business success in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I copyright a name in India?

No, you can’t copyright a name in India.

Copyright protection is meant for literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, cinematograph films, and sound recordings.

However, you can protect a name under trademark law, which prevents others from using the same or a confusingly similar name in the same line of business.

 How do I check if a name is copyrighted in India?

Since names cannot be copyrighted, what you’re likely looking to do is check if a name is trademarked.

You can do this by visiting the online database of the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks.

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Here, you can conduct a ‘Wordmark’ search to see if the name is already registered or in the process of being registered.
 

What is the process to register a name as a trademark in India?

The process involves several steps, including conducting a thorough search in the Trademark Registry.

Such as filing an application, responding to the examination report, waiting for the advertisement in the Trademarks Journal, addressing any public opposition, and finally, obtaining the registration certificate.

How long does it take to register a trademark in India?

The entire process, from filing the application to receiving the registration certificate, can take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years if there are no objections or oppositions.

The timeline can be longer if the application is opposed.

 Is it mandatory to register a name as a trademark in India?

While it is not mandatory to register a name as a trademark, doing so provides legal protection against its unauthorised use by others.

Without trademark registration, your legal recourse in case of misuse by others could be limited.