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Evolution of Trademark Law

Evolution of Trademark Law
Evolution of Trademark Law


Definition of 'Mark' and Scope

The Trademark Act of 1999, under section 2(1)(m), defines 'mark' extensively, encompassing various elements such as devices, brands, names, shapes of goods, packaging, and combinations of colours.

This definition is far-reaching compared to the narrower scope of the 1958 Act, which omitted considerations of shapes, packaging, and colour combinations. 

The inclusive definition allows for flexibility, potentially covering additional elements. Ultimately, a trademark, as per this definition, must be capable of graphical representation and distinguishing one entity's goods or services from others.


Grounds for Refusal of Registration

Section 9 of the Act outlines grounds upon which registration of a trademark may be refused. Furthermore, sections 10 to 16 delineate additional requisites and limitations for trademark registration, such as colour limitations, relative grounds for refusal, provisions for concurrent use, and prohibitions on registering certain names or representations.

Transition from the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act of 1958

Previously, trademark and trade name regulations were governed by the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act of 1958 and the accompanying Trade and Merchandise Marks Rules of 1959. However, in line with the TRIPS Agreement mandates, India underwent substantial reforms in its trademark laws.

The Trademarks Act of 1999: A Paradigm Shift

To align with TRIPS requirements, the Trademarks Act of 1999 replaced the decades-old Trade and Merchandise Marks Act of 1958.

This new legislation aimed to modernise trademark registration procedures, enhance trademark protection, and combat fraudulent trademark usage. It officially came into effect on September 15, 2003.

Key Amendments and Additions

The Act of 1999 introduced significant changes, including the addition of two new chapters:

  • Chapter VIII: Collective Marks: Provides special provisions for the application, registration, infringement, and removal of registration of collective marks.

  • Chapter XI: Appellate Board: Establishes the Appellate Board, defining its composition, powers, and procedures for handling appeals related to trademarks.


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