Indian trademark law

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Indian trademark law statutorily protects trademarks as per the Trademark Act, 1999 and also under the common law remedy of passing off.[1] Statutory protection of trademark is administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, a government agency which reports to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The law of trademark deals with the mechanism of registration, protection of trademark and prevention of fraudulent trademark.[2] The law also provides for the rights acquired by registration of trademark, modes of transfer and assignment of the rights, nature of infringements, penalties for such infringement and remedies available to the owner in case of such infringement.


The law of trademark in India before 1940 was based on the common law principles of passing off and equity as followed in England before the enactment of the first Registration Act, 1875.[3] The first statutory law related to trademark in India was the Trade Marks Act, 1940 which had similar provision like the UK Trade Marks Act, 1938. In 1958, the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 was enacted which consolidated the provisions related to trademarks contained in other statutes like, the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and the Sea Customs Act. [4] The Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 was repealed by the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and is the current governing law related to registered trademarks. [5] The 1999 Act was enacted to comply with the provisions of the TRIPS. Though some aspects of the unregistered trade marks have been enacted into the 1999 Act, but they are primarily governed by the common law rules based on the principles evolved out of the judgments of the Courts. [6] Where the law is ambiguous, the principles evolved and interpretation made by the Courts in England have been applied in India taking into consideration the context of the legal procedure, laws and realities of India. [7]


According to Section 2 (zb) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, “trade mark means a mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others and may include shape of goods, their packaging and combination of colours.” A mark can include a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral, shape of goods, packaging or combination of colors or any such combinations.[8]


  1. ^ Narayanan, P. (2004). Law of Trade Marks and Passing off (6th ed.). Kolkata: Eastern Law House. p. 3. ISBN 9788171772322. 
  2. ^ Preamble, Trade Marks Act, 1999
  3. ^ Narayanan, p. 3
  4. ^ Narayanan, p. 3
  5. ^ Narayanan, p. 3
  6. ^ Narayanan, p. 3
  7. ^ Narayanan, pp. 4-5
  8. ^ Section 2 (m)

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