Trademarking surnames

Dec 2022

Having difficult surnames may be challenging to explain others and also when you want to register the name as trademark. As per the trademark and merchandise act of 1958, it is stated that a mark can be refused if one choose a personal name or surname. Though, there is no such clear specification in the act, people have consumed that surnames can be registered as trademarks. It may be a good to claim registration over someone that is common to others. Trademark is about finding a unique name relevant to the service or product of your service. This shall help the identifier to find your product easily from the rest in the market. So, using a surname as a trademark may not be a good option to try.

It is known that a surname can be considered as trademark only when it is connected with business by means of advertising and others. Though, you get a right to use a surname registered and use it for purpose of trade, there is no point in using one that is someone else may also pick. As starting a business in the name of surname is not common these days in India, number of businesses of same category and the plural use of the surname has also increased. Owing to this, it creates confusion in the market and one fail to exercise exclusive rights relating to the mark.

Important things to know about trademarking surnames

A particular surname word may not be suitable for registration unless it has any feature of distinctiveness. This is mainly done to bring in some differentiation among the goods of different proprietors with the same trademark surname.

In case the surname chosen for registration shows a better meaning for the trademark, it may be worthy of registration even when it does not have any distinctiveness. However, in such cases, the protection of registered surname may be challenging. To be one the safe side, it is to avoid getting a surname registered even when it has relevance with goods or service of the brand. If you are planning to choose a surname as business trademark, there are myths related to its registration. It is better to check for the existence of the trademark before you finally make up your mind to use it for your business.

Courts’ opinion regarding trademarks and surname

As per courts opinion, a surname has ordinary significance and the word does not have much significance other than just being a surname. If the surname has other meaning with it, there is high chance of the surname to register it. This is useful for your business and it shall help to get a distinctiveness of the chosen surname when used as a trademark for the business. You need to research well to know which surname word will be suitable and distinct to be used for your business.

However, trademarking and registering a surname is not a good idea if you are looking something exclusive rights to exercise for your business.

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