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Trademark Search for Ecommerce: Protecting Your Online Business.

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Trademark Search for E-commerce

A trademark is a distinctive image identifying a firm or business line. Under India’s Trademarks Act 1999, a firm or business can register its trademark. On the Indian trademark website, every business or seller applying for trademark registration will conduct a trademark search. It is a thorough search that prevents future expensive issues. 

One can conduct a trademark search on the Indian Trademark Registry database maintained by the government or a website run by a third-party service provider, such as Kanakkupillai.com. The first step in preventing trademark conflicts is to thoroughly examine the clearance of trademarks (or brand names, trade names, business names, etc.) to ensure that any associated trademark infringement difficulties may be successfully avoided.

The Comptroller General of Patent Designs and Trademarks in India supervises and keeps track of trademark registrations. On the Comptroller General’s website, a trademark search database for patent designs and trademarks is available. Both professionals and laypeople can use this database to look up trademarks. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Introduction to Trademarks: A trademark is a distinctive image identifying a firm or business. In India, firms can register their trademarks under the Trademarks Act 1999.
  2. Importance of Trademark Search for E-commerce: Conducting a thorough trademark search is crucial for E-commerce businesses to prevent future expensive legal issues related to trademark infringement.
  3. Trademark Search Process: Businesses can conduct a trademark search on the Indian Trademark Registry database or third-party service providers like Kanakkupillai.com.
  4. Conducting a Trademark Search: Thoroughly examining clearance of trademarks to avoid conflicts with existing trademarks.
  5. Online Trademark Search Tools: Using the Indian Trademark Registry database for wordmark, phonetic, and Vienna code searches.
  6. Trademark Classes: Understanding the 45 trademark classes in India, representing different goods and services categories.
  7. Benefits of Trademark Registration: Registering trademarks early can protect against future conflicts and establish ownership rights.
  8. Trademark Registration Requirements: Eligibility and documentation for entities like joint owners, proprietorship firms, partnership firms, societies, and trusts.
  9. Procedure to Register a Trademark: The step-by-step process of registering a trademark.
  10. Trademark Infringement in E-commerce: Unauthorized brand or service mark use can lead to confusion and legal consequences.
  11. Common Examples of Trademark Infringement: Direct and indirect infringement through vicarious liability or contributory infringement.
  12. Legal Consequences of Trademark Infringement: Civil penalties and criminal charges for trademark violations in India.
  13. How to Avoid Trademark Infringement: Strategies like trademark registration, checking for confusion, and trademark monitoring to prevent infringement issues.

The following is a list of India’s three trademark search categories:

  • Wordmark: To represent a wordmark similarly
  • The Vienna Code: For a similar artistic depiction
  • Phonetic: For words that sound similar

How to conduct a trademark search in India?

On the Indian trademark database link, one can also conduct an online trademark search on the Trademark Registry.

Wordmark Search

Choose “wordmark” from the list of search options, then type the proposed trademark’s terms into the box that appears to conduct a wordmark search.

Any prefix approach, including ‘Starts With,’ ‘Contains,’ or ‘Match With,’ can be used for a wordmark search. 

Phonetic search

Except for the prefix method, a phonetic search follows the same methodology as a wordmark search. As a result, the trademark phonetic search can be carried out similarly to how it was previously explained.

Vienna code search

Finding similar device marks is the main use of the Vienna code search. The six-digit Vienna code must be entered in the “Vienna code” field before selecting the appropriate class. 

Searching the USPTO database

To check whether a trademark has previously been registered or applied for, you should use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), a database maintained by the USPTO. 

Understanding trademark classes

The types of goods or services that consumers want to use trademark protection to protect are the basis for trademark classes. There are 45 trademark classes in India, per the Trademark Act of 1999. 

The list of trademark classes contains 45 categories, of which 34 are reserved for product categories. These trademark classes include all goods and products; however, each class covers a broad range of goods and services.

Trademark registration process for E-commerce

Benefits of trademark registration

Searching for and deleting a mark early on in the process of building a brand may help you avoid the following:

  • Putting money into a trademark that you could have to give up because someone else already has rights to it;
  • A clear and convincing clearance opinion from counsel may be used to defend against an accusation of bad faith or wilful infringement.
  • The knowledge gathered from the search report, and analysis may assist lawyers in creating trademark applications that lower the likelihood of rejections or oppositions by third parties at the trademark office.
  • You might discover that the search results are useful for creating marketing materials that lessen the risk of legal challenges from owners of similar trademarks that the search turned up.

Trademark registration requirements

The following organizations are eligible to register trademarks in India:

1. Joint owners: A company’s joint proprietors may apply for a trademark, and the application must include both names.

2. Proprietorship firm: The business and proprietorship names cannot be used in a trademark application by a proprietorship entity. 

3. Partnership firm: A partnership firm, governed by the Indian Partnership Act, is created when two or more people manage a business together as partners to earn earnings that are equally split or as specified in their agreements.

4. Society or Trust: If more people get together to accomplish a certain goal, an organization may be registered as a Society. Trust and Society can register trademarks, provided it is done on their behalf.

Documents required for trademark registration

The following paperwork is required for trademark registration:

  • Identity proofs of the trademark applicant
  • PAN card 
  • Aadhaar card 
  • Certificate of incorporation (if a company or an LLP wants to register a trademark)
  • Company logo
  • Address proof of the applicant

Procedure to register a trademark

The steps listed below can be used in any state to register a trademark:

  • Step 1: In this regard, you can select any specialist. The specialists will contact you and complete the trademark application form on your behalf.
  • Step 2: After receiving all the necessary paperwork, the specialists will investigate whether the trademark is still available.
  • Step 3: You will receive the trademark once the required money has been paid.

Trademark infringement in E-commerce

The unauthorized use of a brand or service mark is known as trademark infringement. This application, concerning products or services, could cause misunderstandings, deception, or confusion regarding the true source of a good or service.

Common examples of trademark infringement

There are two categories of trademark infringement, which are as follows:

Section 29 of the Act defines direct infringement. For a direct breach to happen, the following conditions must be satisfied:

Use by an unauthorized individual: Accordingly, a trademark is only used infringingly when its owner has given the user of the mark permission.

Identical or deceptively similar: The unauthorized user’s brand must be identical to or confusingly similar to the registered trademark. 

Indirect infringement: Regarding exclusive provisions for indirect infringement, the Trademark Act of 1999 is silent.

This does not imply that indirect infringement is exempt from accountability. Two different categories of indirect infringement exist:

Vicarious liability: According to Section 114 of the Act, the entire company will be held accountable for any violations of the Act. 

Contributory infringement: Contributory infringement is only present when one of three conditions is met: the primary infringer is made aware of the violation, the person knows about the violation, and the person meaningfully contributes to the direct violation.

In the case of contributory infringement, no exception can be granted because there is no chance that the offender will act honourably.

Legal consequences of trademark infringement

In India, trademark infringement is a cognizable offence, meaning that the offender may also be charged with a criminal offence in addition to civil penalties. When a trademark is violated or passed off as another, the court may grant the following relief:

  • Temporary injunction
  • Permanent injunction
  • Damages
  • Account of profits (damages in the amount of the profits gained from the infringement)
  • Destruction of goods using the infringing mark
  • Cost of legal proceedings

In the case of a criminal proceeding, the court dictates the following punishment:

Imprisonment for a period not less than six months that may extend to three years

A fine that is not less than Rs. 50,000 and may extend to Rs. 2 lakh

How to avoid trademark infringement?

Let’s examine the strategies for preventing trademark infringement. 

1. Get trademark registration for your unique brand identity: The best action to prevent trademark infringement is trademark registration. If the trademark is registered, you might not need to provide evidence of your ownership in a trademark infringement or violation. 

2. Check if there is an actual chance of confusion: Verify if there has been actual infringement if your trademark has previously been registered. It is a trademark violation of the initial trademark with an early use if the product offered by two brands is identical and their trademarks are similar. 

3. Trademark monitoring: The registered owner should monitor the use and abuse of a trademark. Essentially, trade monitoring is checking for unauthorized use of the registered trademark. 

Conclusion

On the Indian trademark website, every business or seller applying for trademark registration online will conduct a trademark search. It is a thorough search that prevents future expensive issues. The search results show registered trademarks similar to a proposed trademark, restricting the registration of new similar trademarks and increasing the likelihood that another branded trademark will use the proposed trademark without permission.

During a trademark search, applications for already-existing and registered trademarks must be discovered. The best course of action is, therefore, to use search databases. Typically, getting professional guidance in this area is preferred if you want to attain your goal. 

One of Chennai’s top online trademark registration consultancies, Kanakkupillai.com, is operated by Govche India Pvt. Ltd. and provides services across Tamil Nadu.

Kanakkupillai

Kanakkupillai is your reliable partner for every step of your business journey in India. We offer reasonable and expert assistance to ensure legal compliance, covering business registration, tax compliance, accounting and bookkeeping, and intellectual property protection. Let us help you navigate the complex legal and regulatory requirements so you can focus on growing your business. Contact us today to learn more.