Co-Ownership or Joint Ownership of one Trademark in India
Many a times you will come across records of trademarks similar by name, but registered by many different applicants in the same class. It makes you wonder how that is possible, and can you also get one registered even if it is already registered by someone else.
The answer is Yes! But not that simple. The clause that grants multiple users of a trademark a registration is called honest concurrent users. If a trademark is already registered, and still you start using it, and even apply for its trademark registration, you are breaking the law, and will be penalized for it. As I said, it is not that simple!
A business using a trademark in one part of the country, may not be known by people from other parts of the country. Hence, they may not be of the knowledge that such a trademark is already registered by someone else, who is using it in some part of the country. Thus, they might start using the same trademark name in their city, state, area, without knowing of its registration by some other party. In this case, they have to at least have used it for 5 years, without attracting any objection from the already registered trademark owner. If this is proved in the court, the trademark registrar can grant the ownership of the same trademark name to this new applicant too. This is called as honest concurrent ownership.
If the person who has already registered his trademark, but has not used it in business for at least 5 years, cannot stop someone else from registering the same trademark and start doing business with the same. This enables the new applicant to get the trademark registered even though someone else has already registered it.
The trademarks act, 1999 thus covers many such principles to promote business. The ultimate goal for registering the trademark is to get security from infringement of the same. This can be achieved even if there are many owners of the same trademark, as they may not be doing business in each other’s markets, they can have different logos, they can also add their owner’s name to the trademark which can help differentiate the same trademarks and avoid misunderstanding among the general public.
Many court cases have ruled in favour of honest concurrent ownership of same trademarks, hence you will come across many applicants using the same registered trademark and being granted its registration as well.
The main purpose hence, of a trademark registration is to be secured of not being forced to stop doing business by anyone with the trademark name. Once you get the registration certificate, there is no way anyone can stop you from using it. Once this part is secured, your sleep is secured. Then, the part where you stop others from using it can be put to place. This is a continuous process as there is always someone who is going to try to infringe upon your trademark.