Indian trademark law saw its origin back in the 1940s with the advent of the Indian Trade Marks Act subsequently increasing the need for protecting trademarks. This upsurge can be attributed to the rise in growth of trade and commerce in the country over the years. Ever since then, the trademark law in India has been amended quite a few times to adapt with the standard of the growth of trade and commerce. Intellectual Property is intangible, yet one of the most important assets of a business and hence, businesses looking at the India market are the most in need of trademark protection to safeguard their intellectual property rights.

However, one of the primary questions that arise when a business/startup decides to protect their brand or trademark is – whether a business should protect its trademark as a word or a logo?

Trademarks in India can be registered in different forms namely word mark, label, logo and device mark and deciding whether to register the mark as a word mark or as a logo is the toughest decisions to make for one before applying for registration of a trademark. Although, there isn’t a definite answer for the question, there are many factors which lead to deciding whether a business should register the brand name / trademark, as a logo or a word mark or both.

Trademark application as a word mark:
A word mark registers the word one would want to use and renders stronger and wider protection to one’s business. Once registration is granted for a word trademark, the applicant has the right to use and represent the word in any format or font which grants it extensive protection including exclusive rights to the word as a whole and also allows the applicant to depict it in various formats regardless of its style for all the goods and services in respect of the mark. In other words, by filing a word mark, one would prevent third parties from using one’s brand name in any regard.

Trademark application as a logo:
A logo on the other hand gives one the rights in the combination of images, design and words taken together. Therefore, the protection given to the words encompassed in a logo are limited in comparison with the standard word marks since the rights in a logo are entitled only to the logo as a whole. If one wishes to register a particular stylized appearance or a combination of stylized wording, orientation, shape, colour and design, filing a trademark as a logo would be appropriate. In other words, by filing a logo, one would prevent third parties from using the said logo or any other logo deceptively similar, rather than the words incorporated in the logo.

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Quite often, the brand name of businesses constitutes both of words and logos rather than just a logo. The safest way to protect the intellectual property in such instances would be to file the trademark as both as a word mark and as a logo. However, since filing multiple trademark applications would be an expensive affair, the next safest pick for businesses who are looking at cost efficiency would be to register the trademark as a word mark.

An ideal example for such a scenario would be that of the well-known brand PEPSI. Since 1962 till date, PEPSI has changed its logo a significant number of times. Had it registered its initial trademark application as a logo in 1962 and ceased usage of the same each time a new logo was created, then it would have to file a new trademark application for every such new logo created. The initial trademark application would not protect any of the subsequently created logos. However, since PEPSI registered their trademark as a word mark, they were able to do away with such redundant hassles.

Ideally, separate trademark applications for word as well as logo should be filed to attain the broadest protection for any business. While big companies might have the budget to justify such multiple applications, this may not seem economical for startup businesses. Hence, it is advisable to file the trademark as a word mark, giving one the next broadest protection against unwarranted infringers.

We hope this article helped you learn the major differences between filing a trademark as a word and as a logo. You may also want to see our article on 4 steps to register a trademark in a fast and cost effective way.

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