21 May 2018

Keeping an Eye on India

There have been several significant changes since India’s trademark system was overhauled, says Hemant Singh, Managing Partner at Inttl Advocare (India), who serves on INTA’s Board of Directors. In March last year, the Trade Marks Rules 2017 came into effect, replacing the previous version from 2002 and modernizing a range of trademark processes.

The first change was simple but effective—a huge reduction in the number of forms, from a total of 74 forms to just eight covering all major processes, including application, opposition, and renewal. The objective is to increase efficiency at the Trade Marks Registry, says Mr. Singh.

In addition, the new rules mandate online notification at every stage of the application process. Earlier applicants had to wait to receive office objections or oppositions to their marks through the postal service—a route that “could take years,” says Mr. Singh. Now, they can proactively monitor the whole process online. Applicants can download and respond to office objections and oppositions in a timely manner, and the online system has helped to fast-track most standard procedures, he explains.

The next noteworthy change is that applicants filing marks based on use must produce evidence of use, rather than merely claiming it. Mr. Singh admits this is causing “a bit of hardship and undue delay,” but it is a positive step forward because previously some applicants would simply make a false use claim “and get away with it.” Now, applicants are held accountable for the claims they make.

A “very important development” concerns recordal of well-known trademarks, Mr. Singh continues. There is now a formal procedure for applying for and recordal of such status which, if granted, requires the Trade Marks Registry to object to any applications that are identical or similar to the well-known mark across all classes of goods and services. Well-known trademark owners can also assert their marks in infringement proceedings even when the goods and services are completely different. Well-known trademarks are “extremely useful and highly recommended recordals,” he says.

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