It is quite interesting to see how brands have not only dictated the shopping preferences of the consumers but have sometimes also ended up altering the common nouns for many daily use items. How often have we heard people calling any detergent powder as ‘Surf’ and or adhesive tape as ‘Scotch tape’? This clearly illustrates the power of a popular brand. However, it takes years of consistent efforts and streamlined strategies to build a brand image that gets ingrained in people’s minds. This brand image ultimately becomes an asset for the company and here is when the role of trademark symbol comes in.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, ‘a trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises.’ Getting a trademark registered (represented by ®) gives an exclusive right to its owner and also provides an upper hand in case of any legal dispute takes place pertaining to infringement of the trademark. Thus a trademark protects the attributes of a brand from a legal perspective and ensures that no other player in the market knowingly or unknowingly, exploits someone else’s brand image for their own profit.
From the vantage point of the consumer, the availability of ample of options in the market makes it baffling to select the right product. Thus, consumers gauge the quality of any product by the trademark symbol it carries. The power of attraction of a trademark is directly proportional to the goodwill and reputation its company has been able to establish in the market over the years.
Coming to the specifications of a trademark, it isn’t any random sign but needs to carry some specific characteristics. First and foremost, it should be distinct. For example, the Spanish apparel company- Mango, uses a common word to represent an apparel brand which makes it distinctive. However, if the same name would have been used for some branded fruit products, the trademark would have flunked its distinctiveness test as this is a generic term in the food sector. Apart from being distinctive, a trademark symbol can be suggestive of the quality or characteristics of the trademarked product. Like the trademark- Frooti (deliberately spelled differently) explicitly suggests that the product may have a major element of fruits in it. Other than this, any meaningless self- created word can also be used as a trademark, for example, Oppo- meaningless but distinct. Interestingly, sounds and 3D shapes can also be trademarked apart from words. The four-note bell sound of Britannia that most of us can recognize within seconds is trademarked and so is the shape of the Coke bottle.
Trademarks have become one of the most valuable intellectual property rights and this is the reason we see companies register trademarks since unregistered trademarks (Represented by TM) can be challenged easily. So, if you want to register trademark, it is always recommended to select a mark that can be used both as a trading name and domain name and is also available for registration. With the inevitable rise in consumerism, the importance of trademark is only going to grow higher and companies need to make strategies accordingly.