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Well-Known Trademarks: Significance, Protection and Process


Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by Swetha LLM

Trademarks are vital instruments for product and service differentiation in the connected world of today. They are also beneficial assets for companies. Special significance is attributed to known trademarks, which are widely recognized across borders. Indian trademark law accords recognized trademarks’ significant value, and safeguards are in place to preserve these priceless possessions.

How does a trademark become well-known?

A well-known trademark is a name, as well as logo, or catchphrase that represents the legitimacy and established reputation of a business. Due to elements like its market presence, continuous use, intensive marketing, and global influence, it has a strong standing and is easily recognizable.

In the Trademarks Act of 1999, Section 2(1) (zg) provides a definition for “well-known trade mark,” which refers to a mark that has received a great deal of recognition from the public using related goods or services. The degree to which the mark’s usage in conjunction with other products or services is likely to be interpreted as suggesting a link in trade or the provision of services between those goods or services and the person using the mark in connection with the first-mentioned goods or services.

Examples of well-recognized trademarks include Tata, Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike, McDonald’s, Google, and Amazon.

The Value of Well-Known Marks

Some key indicators of their importance include:

1. Increased Brand worth: A brand’s worth and perception are significantly improved by well-known trademarks.

2. Legal Security: Under intellectual property regulations, well-known trademarks are given a greater intensity of legal protection. With the aid of this legal protection, brand owners can maintain their standing in the marketplace and reputation.

3. Preventing Infringement: A reduced likelihood of trademark infringement is achieved by demotivating other people from trying to take advantage of or copy the brand by threatening them with legal action and damaging their own reputation.

Redress for Known Trademark Violations

When a well-known trademark is abused or misused, the owner has the option to pursue the following remedies:

  • Prohibit the registration of confusingly similar trademarks for all categories of goods and services.
  • Make a request for the trademark’s withdrawal.
  • Make sure that no names of organizations, company names, or logos contain the trademark.
  • Fines imposed: The purpose of punitive damages is to be used as a deterrent to infringers using well-known trademarks and causing dilution, as the judiciary has decided in a number of cases.

Protection of Well-Known Trademarks

“The Trade Marks Act,1999” provides protection for well-known trademarks in India.

Reasons that are somewhat relevant for denial of registration are covered in Section 11. Furthermore, the protection of well-known trademarks is the express subject of Section 11(2). This provision gives registered owners of well-known trademarks the ability to oppose the registration of a mark that is confusingly similar to their own, even in situations where the goods or services are different or dissimilar.

According to Section 11(2) of the Act, a trademark that (a) is similar to or identical to a former trademark; and

(b) must be registered for products or services that are distinct from those for which the previous trademark, which is registered under a different owner—is already registered.

Shall not be registered if the previous trademark is, or was, widely known in India.

Protection requirements: If using the later mark without permission would unfairly benefit from or harm the previous trademark’s reputation or unique character, then protection under section 11(2) will be ensured.

The application process for well-known trademarks

Establishing a well-known brand in India is outlined in Rule 124 of the Trademark Rules, 2017. This process comprises the following steps:

  • Submitting an application: Any interested party may apply online by completing Form TM-M and including the necessary paperwork. A statement explaining the reason why the trademark is regarded as well-known is one of the additional proofs for the application. A government charge of Rupees 1,00,000 is applicable to each application.
  • Submission of Evidence: Significant proof of the trademark’s reputation and recognition, such as market research, sales data, ads, and media coverage, must be gathered and submitted by the applicant.
  • Stage of Examination: Only marks that are truly recognized are given this designation. Thus, the Registrar reviews the application and supporting documentation to decide whether the mark meets the requirements to be considered well-known.
  • Publication: When a mark is recognized, it is published for third-party objection in the Trademarks Journal. The mark becomes a well-known trademark if no objection arises within the allotted period, which is usually four months. It is important to bear in mind that, even with the application of Rule 124, the courts retain the power to decide whether a trademark satisfies the requirements for being deemed “well-known.”
  • An established trademark needs to be included in the Registrar’s current list of established trademarks.
  • The registrar has the authority to remove the mark if they discover an error that is on the list but is not justified after giving the party an opportunity for a personal hearing that complies with natural justice norms.
  • In India, the reputation, goodwill, and brand value of a trademark carry significant importance and are considered for inclusion in the list of well-known trademarks to safeguard against potential infringements, affording them the same protection as other well-known trademarks.

List of Well-Known Trademarks in India

The Registrar of Trade Marks in India maintains an updated list of well-known trademarks, encompassing both international and domestic trademarks. Notable trademarks in India include:

  • Amul
  • Coca-Cola
  • Bisleri
  • Google
  • Pepsi
  • Nestle
  • McDonald’s
  • Samsung
  • LG
  • Nike
  • BMW
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Sony
  • Nokia
  • Adidas

In conclusion

Well-Known trademarks are extremely valuable to consumers and businesses in India, just like they are everywhere else in the globe. They are representative of dependability, excellence, and a long-standing heritage. India’s legal system recognizes that it is important to protect these trademarks so that they can grow and stay distinctive. The thoughtfully crafted legislation, application process, and trademark regulations of 2017 contribute to maintaining the reputation and integrity of well-known trademarks, which in turn promotes innovation and the growth of national businesses.


1. What provides protection for well-known trademarks in India?

Well-known trademarks are safeguarded in two ways by the Trade Marks Act of 1999. First, it prohibits the registration of identical marks. Second, it allows for legal action against any unauthorized use of a well-known trademark.

2. In India, who is responsible for officially recognizing a mark as well-known?

The Trademark Registrar

Nonetheless, a trademark rule change in the nation gave the registrar of trademarks the authority to designate a mark as well-known and add it to its official list of such marks through Rule 124.

3. How can I determine if an application for a well-known trademark is still pending?

See the website for IP India: Visit the official intellectual property website of IP India. Enter the number for the application. Enter your trademark application number in the section designated for searches. Send In a Query: To see the complete application status, click search.

4. Which Indian trademarks are the most well-known?

The length of time, scope, and region of acknowledgement. Several popular Indian brands, such as Whirlpool, Google, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Amul, Bisleri, and Pepsi, are recognized as well-known trademarks.

5. Which form applies to well-known trademarks?

Applicants must use Form TM-M to submit their application, as stated in Rule 124 of the regulations. Filing a trademark with the Registrar is necessary to assess if it meets the criteria of being a well-known trademark.

Swetha LLM

Swetha, LLM, a lawyer with skills in writing legal content, is passionate about simplifying complex legal concepts and engaging readers with her insights of nuanced legal ideas. She is able to preserve the accuracy of legal material while adjusting the tone and style to fit the audience.