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Why Do Trademark Applications Get Rejected?


Last Updated on May 25, 2024 by Sachin Jaiswal

A trademark must be registered to enjoy legal protection that allows the owner to sue for infringement and to claim exclusive rights over the mark. Furthermore, a registered trademark could raise the worth of a business and draw in investors and customers. The process of registering a brand is not always easy, though. Rejection of trademark applications can have serious consequences, including delayed market entrance, missed commercial opportunities, and the need to rename, which would cost more money and harm a company’s image. To avoid these effects and promise a smooth registration procedure, one must understand the reasons behind trademark application rejection.

Reasons for Rejection of Trademark Applications

Incorrect Filings

Incorrect filing is among the most often cited causes of trademark application rejection. Application for trademarks must be filed in accordance with the Trademark Act exactly; any mistakes might lead to denial. Standard filing mistakes consist of the following:

  • Not supplying all necessary paperwork and information
  • Sending in a defective or incomplete application form
  • Failing to pay the required filing costs
  • Incorrectly specifying the products or services that the mark covers

Before submitting the application, ensure that all criteria are satisfied and thoroughly check it to prevent rejection due to filing mistakes.

Similarity to Existing Trademarks

Similarities to already registered trademarks also usually cause trademark applications to be rejected. To avoid consumer misunderstanding, the application will probably be denied if the proposed mark is determined to be identical or confusingly similar to a previously registered mark covering relevant products or services.

The similarities may have intellectual, acoustic, or visual components. Should the markings sound the same (even with different spellings), have the same meaning in several languages, or have a strikingly similar look, they may nevertheless be regarded as confusingly similar even if they are not identical.

Before filing, applicants should thoroughly investigate trademarks to find any possible conflicts with current marks and prevent rejection for resemblance. Should a comparable mark be discovered, the application might be turned down due to a high chance of misunderstanding.

Language That Is Offensive or Obscene

Additionally, trademark applications that include vulgar, scandalous, or objectionable wording are rejected. Obscenity is prohibited by Indian trademark law in all its manifestations, including trademarks. Should the proposed mark be discovered to include vulgar or objectionable language, the application will be turned down.

Rejectable examples of abusive language include:

  • Sexually explicit material
  • Disparaging or demeaning allusions
  • Racial or ethnic slurs
  • Profanity or filthy language

To prevent rejection on these grounds, applicants should consider their proposed mark’s implications and possible offensiveness before applying.

Utilising Generic Terms or Designs

Furthermore, trademarks made up of generic phrases or graphics that just describe the products or services are vulnerable to rejection. Often used generic words that characterise a product category are not unique enough to be registered as trademarks.

For instance, the mark “COLD” would probably be rejected for drinks because it only describes a feature of the products. Likewise, an obliquely misleading logo—like “LOVE CHOCOLATE” for delicacies without chocolate—may also be disapproved.

Additionally, marks that are mainly spatially descriptive or misleadingly misdescriptive may be rejected. If readers of a news website wrongly believe that the news comes from Miami, for example, “MIAMI NEWS ONLINE” can be seen as solely geographically descriptive.

Applicants who want to prevent rejection because of generic or descriptive terminology should select a mark that is unique and not only describes the products or services. Using a trademark search and speaking with a professional might point out any problems with the suggested mark.

Legal Framework

Section 9 of the Trademark Act of 1999

Finding the reasons for rejecting trademark applications is mostly determined by Section 9 of the Trademark Act of 1999. This part covers all the reasons that a registration may be refused, emphasising important elements that affect the registration procedure.

Influence on Rejection Reasons

  • Unique Character: Trademarks without unique character—those that cannot successfully differentiate between products or services—are not allowed to be registered. This standard guarantees trademarks are distinct and easily recognised.
  • Descriptive Marks: Under Section 9, marks that just mention qualities like quality, origin, or purpose of products are not allowed to be registered, prohibiting descriptive phrases that are not unique.
  • Prohibited Elements: Section 9 also prohibits the registration of marks, including official names, deceptive components, or vulgar material, to protect against fraudulent or offensive trademarks.

Applicants ‘ successful navigation of the trademark registration procedure depends on their understanding of Section 9, which guarantees adherence to legal requirements and improves the uniqueness and protection of their marks.

How to Avoid Rejection

Make a unique mark and conduct a comprehensive trademark search to prevent rejection. Here are some tips:

Search Trademarks

  • For a thorough clearance search, use an IP research company. They save money and time by knowing to search extensively and offer clearance.
  • Look for like and identical markings, taking into account conceptual, auditory, and visual similarities. This makes possible issues with already registered trademarks easier to find.

Formulating a Unique Trademark

  • Select an original mark unrelated to the products or services it designates. Photocopiers use XEROX, and cameras use KODAK.
  • Avoid phrases that outline the product in detail or allude to its features. These are less unique and harder to register.
  • Seek for a logo that is easily identifiable, distinctive, and different from those of rivals.

Carry out a comprehensive trademark search and design a unique mark to greatly lower the possibility of rejection and guarantee the successful registration of your brand.

What to do If Your Trademark is Rejected

Should your trademark application be turned down, you must act quickly to resolve the matter. The following are the actions to be done:

Getting a Rejection Notice

When you get a rejection letter, carefully review the examining attorney’s justifications. Rejections sometimes stem from the mark’s potential to be confused with an already-existing mark, merely general or descriptive, or unpleasant language.

Appellate Procedures

Should you disagree with the denial, you have three months from the date of the notification to file an appeal with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB). The trademark class that is sought determines the appeal procedure. Submit arguments and supporting data addressing the important aspects the examining attorney will take into account, such as mark similarity, goods/services similarity, and uniqueness of your mark, to bolster your case.

Seeking Legal Assistance

A trademark attorney should be consulted as navigating the appeal procedure can be difficult. They may prepare a compelling case, assist you in comprehending its merits, and stand in for you before the IPAB. Alternate tactics, including modifying your application or submitting a petition for cancellation against the mentioned registration, can also be investigated by an attorney.

Even when your trademark is first rejected, you may improve your chances of registering it by knowing the grounds for rejection, going through the right appeal procedure, and consulting a qualified attorney.

Personalised Advice and Trademark Search

Get professional advice before registering a trademark. Trademark law experts offer priceless advice, guaranteeing a comprehensive and successful trademark search. They facilitate correct interpretation of search results, point out possible disputes, and assist in negotiating the difficulties of trademark registration. By avoiding typical traps like resemblance to existing marks, unpleasant language, or generic phrases, expert assistance increases the likelihood of successful registration. Expertly led thorough trademark searches are essential in avoiding rejection as they reveal any conflicts and guarantee the distinctiveness and protection of a property.

A Trademark Attorney’s Role

A successful application is ensured by the professional direction and counsel that trademark attorneys offer during the trademark registration procedure. To determine if the intended mark is available and to find any conflicts, they do thorough trademark searches. Early problem identification by attorney helps to prevent expensive errors that might result in an application being rejected.

Lawyers make sure all legal prerequisites are met when they draft and submit the trademark application. They handle any problems that come up throughout the examination process and respond to office actions from the trademark register. Trademark attorneys can stand in for clients in court, defending their rights and settling disputes.

When choosing a trademark attorney, consider the experience, knowledge, and success rate of the trademark registration. Search for lawyers well-versed in trademark law, both domestically and abroad. Prioritise lawyers who provide open lines of contact, prompt service, and a history of satisfied clients.


In conclusion, there are many causes why a trademark may be rejected, including filing mistakes, resemblance to already-existing trademarks, objectionable wording, and generic terminology. Successful navigation of the trademark registration procedure depends on understanding these elements. Applicants must give careful application submission priority to prevent rejection, making sure that all requirements are fulfilled precisely and fully.

Preventing rejection and obtaining trademark registration requires thorough trademark searches, professional advice, and the following of the law. The need for a well-crafted application is highlighted by the negative effects of rejection, which include delayed market entrance, lost commercial prospects, and possible rebranding expenses. Emphasising the need for careful filing procedures, applicants can improve their prospects of a smooth trademark registration procedure and successfully defend their intellectual property.

Sachin Jaiswal

Sachin Jaiswal B.A.(Hons)! Sachin Jaiswal has been writing material on his own for more than five years. He got his B.A.(Hons) in English from the well-known University of Delhi. His success in this job is due to the fact that he loves writing and making material that is interesting. He has worked with a lot of different clients in many different fields, always giving them high-quality content that their target audience will enjoy. Through his education and work experience, he is able to produce high-quality content that meets his clients' needs.