How to choose a trademark


A trademark is a design, word, phrase or symbol that helps to distinguish your product or services from those of others in a marketplace. It's one of the three legal concepts that describe intellectual property- the other two being patent and copyright.

The Trademarks Act, 1999 was designed to avoid consumer bewilderment over the trademarks that businesses or other organizations use in connection with their goods and services. In simpler terms, trademark law makes it unlawful for a business to use a trademark (e.g. a slogan, a logo, a name) in association with a good or service if it is confusingly similar to another business's trademark.

Trademarks are the most important intangible asset/ property that any business can own. In simple terms a good trademark distinguishes you from the competition and helps you stand out in a horde. A poor trademark will have a negative impact on your marketing effort and might even entrap you in legal disputes. Selecting a unique, distinctive and legally strong trademark is the first step in building brand equity.


Initially, make sure that your trademark fulfills all the legal requisites for trademark registration. Also, the trademark must be sufficiently distinctive to be protectable and registrable with the national as well as foreign trademark offices.

  1. AVOID SURNAMES- Surnames alone cannot be registered as trademarks. For Example- The mark ‘SINGH’ alone is a poor choice for a trademark because the word ‘SINGH’ is a surname which is a generic term.

  2. AVOID CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR/SAME TRADEMARKS- A trademark which is confusingly similar/same to a registered trademark cannot be registered for the same kind of goods/services. For Example- the mark ‘RIBOKK’ cannot be registered for shoes since the trademark ‘REEBOK’ is already registered for a similar type of goods.

  3. AVOID PURELY DESCRIPTIVE MARKS- Trademark which describes the nature and quality of the goods or services intended to be used under such trademark is not permitted to be registered. For Example- the mark “COLD DRINK’ in relation to soft drinks cannot be registered since it describes the actual product being sold. The reason being if registered, it would prevent anyone from using the terms COLD and DRINK to describe any cold beverage.

  4. AVOID GENERIC TERMS- The most important element is to choose a trademark which is unique and distinctive hence it is better to avoid generic terms. For Example- green, superior, American, Canadian, deluxe, gold, economy and such other words. If you incorporate generic words into your trademark, then you blend into the crowd, and won’t be able to stand out in front.
  6. AVOID TLA’S (THREE LETTER ACRONYMS) AND NUMBERS- Acronyms are essentially difficult to remember while words especially colorful words are easily remembered. Similarly, avoid using numbers in a trademark as they tend to be less memorable.

  7. USE COINED TERMS- These are invented words which do not have any real meaning in any language. For Example- VISTARA, ZARA. Coined words are easy to protect since they are unique and you get an exclusive right over it. You can create an invented word by simply combining parts of other words. Example- MICROSOFT is a combination of “Micro Computer” and “Software.”

  8. USE ARBITRARY MARKS- These are the trademarks that consist of words that have a real meaning in a language. However, the meaning of such words have no relation to the goods and services or to its quality or nature. For Example- APPLE used in relation to electronic goods.

  9. USE SUGGESTIVE MARKS- These are those marks which hint at one or some of the attributes of the good or service but does not describe them . The appeal of suggestive marks lies in the fact that they act as a form of advertising and may create a direct association in the mind of consumers between the trademarks,certain desired qualities and the product. For example AIRBUS for airplanes and NETFLIX for streaming services