Trademark and Competition Law

By: Ishika Gautam

The Indian Government in pursuit of increasing the economic efficiency of our country acknowledged the Liberalization, Privatization, and globalization era by liberalizing the country’s economy and reducing governmental control. Currently, the Indian economy is facing aggressive competition in every field. Fair competition has proven to be an effective mechanism which enhances the efficiency of the economy. Therefore the primary purpose of implementing the competition law was to control monopolies and encourage competition.
The objective behind the formulation of competition law, Intellectual property laws is to protect the research and development inventions which are carried out by the inventor firm from being used by other companies producing the same kind of products and making a profit from the same. Therefore, on the one hand, IP laws work towards creating monopolistic rights, whereas, on the other hand, competition law battles with it. From this, there seems to be a clash between the objectives of both these laws.
The competition laws involve the formulation of policies that promote competition in the local markets and aim to prevent anti-competitive business practices and unwanted interference of Government. The competition law seeks to eliminate monopolization of the production process so that new firms can enter the market. The maximization of consumer welfare and increased production value are a few primary objectives of competition law. On the other hand, IP Laws are monopolistic legal rights granted to owners resulting from human intellectual creativity.

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Case law-
Arun Chopra v. Kaka-Ka Dhaba Pvt. Ltd. and Ors.
The famous restaurant named Kake Da Hotel has now attained it’s secured rights in its name and trademarks against another Nashik-based food outlets namely ‘Kaka-ka Dhaba’, ‘Kaka-Ka Restaurant ‘Kaka-Ka Garden’. The Court has observed that even though there isn’t a doubt that the user is long and extensive. The question arises whether the word ‘Kaka’ or ‘Kake’ can be a monopoly of any party and could be adjudicated on trial. Till now, the interim order is granted in favour of the plaintiff and the defendants are prohibited from using words ‘Kaka-ka’ with any new outlet during the period, it has allowed that the defendants can continue to use the names Kaka-ka Dhaba’, ‘Kaka-Ka Restaurant’ and ‘Kaka-Ka Garden’.

Under the Competition law of IPR, the market’s unavailability can establish some dominance in markets. Similarly, the comparison of market shares between a dominant firm and its competitors is advantageous in determining the power and monopoly. It seems complicated to decide on the minimum percentage of market share that could attain dominance or monopoly of a particular firm in the market. Various judgments dominance cannot establish a minimum rate that points to the firm’s authority.

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The anti-competition laws to tackle the monopolies of IPR often include two measures: compulsory licensing and parallel imports. The compulsory license is when the state has authorized an IPR holder to surrender their exclusive rights over intellectual property, under article 31 of Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. The compulsory licenses are granted only under specific circumstance such as the interest of public health, in national emergencies, in nil or inadequate exploitation of any patent in any country, and also for the overall national interest. On the other hand, Parallel imports include all goods brought in the country without authorization of an appropriate IP holder and are placed legitimately into the market.

In addition to all these provisions, provisions like Section 3 of the new Competition Act, 2002, deals with more anti-competitive agreements that cannot be used by the IPR holders as they conflict with competition policies. Firstly, the patent pooling is a restrictive practice where the firms of particular manufacturing industry decide, to pool their patents and then agree to not grant the licenses to third parties, then simultaneously fix quotas and prices. Secondly, one more clause that restricts the competition concerning research and development or prohibits a licensee from using other rival technology is considered to be anti-competitive under this law. Thirdly, the licensor under this law is not permitted to fix the price at which the licensee would sell his goods.

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The above examples are not exhaustive, but a few examples demonstrate the anti-competitive provisions applicable to the IPR under this Act. Moreover, under Section 27 of this Act, India’s Competition Commission had the authority to penalize the IPR holders who abuse their dominant position. Furthermore, under Section 4 of this Act, the Commission is authorized to punish the parties of an anti-competitive agreement, it is in the contradiction of this section.

To search for a mark before filling the application is the most fundamental part of applying for a trademark. Even though it is not a procedural pre-requisite for the application, it finds its utmost importance in the fact that acceptance of a mark for registration as a trade mark relies on the vividness of the mark. It is a crucial step to carry a detailed search in the Trade Marks Registry, to check for the mark’s uniqueness and deduct all possibilities of duplication. It also needs to be checked that the proposed mark is not the same or even similar to any other existing mark registered or pending for registration. A detailed prior search is also a proof of honesty and good faith in accepting the mark, during opposition and the infringement proceedings.

The application for the trademark needs to be specified by the appropriate class or classes of the goods or services, concerning which the application is filed. The applicant for trademark needs to be extremely careful in ascertaining the type of goods or services in their application as the tester needs to be convinced about the proper use of goods and services from a particular class or across all classes to the application, and a broad declaration can also prolong the process of the examination.

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The selection of a mark is an important part of any application. The mark selected needs to meet the qualifications that are enlisted in the Trade Mark Act, and it has to fall within the parameters of its presence as a device, brand, a heading, label, a ticket, name, signature, word, letter, a numeral, shape of goods, packaging or any combination of colours, or any combination of these distinct elements that are capable of being ‘graphically represented’ and indicates a trade connection with the proprietor. Now, it essentially needs to have a proper distinctive character capable of constructively distinguishing all the applicant’s goods and services from others. The denial of the presence of uniqueness of the mark may result in the refusal of the application.

Filing of Application
The application for the mark can be filed by a person or his respective IP Lawyer or any other person who is authorized in this respect at the designated Head office (at Mumbai) or any branch offices (at Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata) of Registry by a delivery at the front office either personally or by post, it can also be submitted electronically through the gateway being provided at The application for this has to be generally filed at the office which is within the territorial jurisdiction of the principal place of business of that applicant in India is situated. There are many applications which need to be filed directly at Head Office.
Special care needs to be taken of the fees, and as non-payment results in regarding the application as not-filed.

Numbering and Examination of Application
On receipt of the application, it is appropriately dated and numbered. A copy of it is returned to the applicant/attorney—a number assigned to the mark, which is the registration number post-registration. The proprietor is only allowed to use the trademark symbol after their application has been completed and numbered. The application is adequately examined for accuracy of the class in which the mark has been filed, all the necessary documents that need to be attached depending on the type of application- registration of the mark for goods or services being included in one class/different classes/with priority claim etc., details of the applicant and the proprietor.

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After the proper completion of the examination, the Trademarks Registry sends an “Official Examination Report” to that applicant. The applicant may sometimes be required to reply to the objections raised by the Examiner under Section 9 and Section 11 of Trade Marks Act and the clarifications regarding the content of the application. The reply being insufficient to satisfy the Examiner, the applicant is then granted a hearing to overcome his objections.

Publication in the Trade Mark Journal
The mark’s application is then published in the “Trade Marks Journal,” after a proper post-examination hearing with the applicant. The journal is also published by the Trademarks Registry and is a publication by the Government of India. The application is then granted registration if it stands being unopposed after the proper publication in the journal for a stipulated period of four months.
If the publication is challenged in any case, then the opposition proceedings commence, and the registration is granted freely only if the proceedings conclude in favour of the applicant.

Opposition Proceedings
Anyone can file a notice of opposition against any application published in the journal, within that period of four months from the date of that mark being published in the journal. Any supporting evidence can accompany the notice for the opposition.
An application can then be opposed to the primary grounds that are provided in the Trade Mark Act. This is the Registrar’s task to serve a copy of the opposition to the applicant, inside two months of receipt of resistance. The applicant must then reply within two months; failure to do so will result in the applicant’s application being treated as abandoned. The counter-statement is given to the opponent, and usually, the parties are being heard along with the consideration of proper evidence provided by both parties.
The Registrar is given the authority to decide the acceptance of trademark application based on the hearing’s judgment. The aggrieved party is given the right to challenge the ruling by filing an appeal in front of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.

The mark’s application is registered if it has been accepted and not opposed, or opposed but has been decided in favour of the applicant. The applicant is also issued the Certificate of Registration and is further allowed to use the symbol R and the registered trademark. The registered trademark given is valid for the next ten years from the date of that application is received for the mark.

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A registered trademark can be renewed after every ten years for an unlimited period on payment of that particular renewal fee. The renewal request should ideally be filed in the Trade Marks Registry within only six months before the expiry of the trademark. The application can also be filed up to six months after the trademark expiry, with the payment of the late renewal fees being prescribed.

1) To obtain John Doe Orders and ex parte injunctions.
2) To accept search and seizure orders.
3) To conduct market raids.
4) To check for the accounts of the infringer.
5) To medicate for amicable settlement of disputes.
6) Do Arbitration and also Conciliation.

Enforcement through constructions
The Customs Act of 1962, enables Commissioner of Customs, on behalf of Central Government, prohibits importing the goods on absolute or conditional terms, used for the protection of patents, trademarks, and copyrights. In contrast to this, the authorities came up with Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules in 2007 which correctly specifies the process of protection of these intellectual property rights (Copyright, Trade Mark, Patent, Design and Geographical Indication) from getting violated in the course of these import into the country.

Licensing of Trademarks
The trademark’s license is an agreement between a registered proprietor of the trademark (licenser) and another person (licensee), giving authority to the licensee to use the trademark in the course of trade, against a particular payment of royalty to the licenser. The word here used “license” is not mentioned anywhere in the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The Act says about the words “registered user” and “permitted use.”

Revocation of Trade Mark
An application for the cancellation or rectification of a trademark registration can be made only by the aggrieved person. Such type of application must be filed with Registrar of Trade Marks or the Appellate Board.
Some of the grounds on which the registration can be removed or cancelled:
The trademark being registered was done without any bona fide intention, and there was no bona fide use of the trademark for the time up to date of three months before the date of the application for removal.
Three months before the application for removal, a regular period of five years from the date on which the trademark has entered on the register or longer has elapsed during which brand was registered and in which no bona fide use.
Trademark was registered without any sufficient cause.


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