Grounds for Trademark Objection in India: A Brief Overview

  • March 11, 2022
  • Dushyant Sharma
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Trademark Objection is so prevalent in the trademark registration process that people have started to think of it as a natural part of the procedure. 


But it does not have to be. As long as you understand the reasons behind the trademark objection, you can prevent any case that is made against your trademark registration in India. 


In this article, we are going to cover the grounds on which your brand name suffers objection from the Trademark Registration Department.


Overview of Trademark Objection Grounds


Trade Mark applications are generally objected, to if your application contains any of the grounds as prescribed under section 9 and section 11 of the Trade Mark Act, 1999. These duo sections deal with absolute and relative grounds based on which a trademark application can be objected.

Let's understand these grounds piece by piece which is as follows:


Absolute Grounds (Section 9):

When it comes to absolute grounds of trademark objections, the following points are the matter of concern:

  1. Indistinct marks: Those marks are devoid of any distinctive character.
  2. Quality defining Trademarks: Trademarks that may serve in trade to designate the kind, quality, values or other characteristics of the goods and services in question.
  3. Deceptive Marks: Mark is of the nature to deceive or create confusion;
  4. Offensive Trademarks: Mark contains or consists of any matter which likely to hurt the religious sentiments of any class of citizens; or
  5. Prohibited Trademarks: Lastly, its use is prohibited under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.


These are the absolute grounds for trademark objections. They are called so because the reason behind objections is pretty clear. However, What if the grounds are not readily visible. What is to be done in that case?


Also Read: Understanding the Nuances of the Trademark Objection Reply


Relative Grounds (Section 11):

Section 11 lays down that a mark shall not be registered if there are plausible reasons to confuse the public including the likelihood of association with an earlier trademark.


A trademark shall also not be registered if its use in India is liable to be prevented under any law of passing off protecting an unregistered trademark used in the cause of trade or its use in India is liable to be prevented under the Law of brand names.


Besides the reasons cited above, elements of distinctiveness always remain the best criterion for the registrability of a mark as a trademark.

The term distinctiveness has to apprehend concerning trademark, not in isolation. Distinctiveness has to be understood as some quality in the trademark which earmarks the goods so marked as distinct from those of the other products.


Distinctiveness may be:

  • Inherent; or
  • Acquired over some time.


Trademark rests on one principle - that one good can have only one origin, just as one man has one mother. It means that customers would find it easy to distinguish the products from competitors.


How to avoid these grounds of objection?

In order to avoid these grounds of objection, the trademark applicant must take care of the following aspects when filling out the trademark application form:

  1. Making the trademark as distinctive as possible. 
  2. Conducting a thorough trademark search before filling out the application forme
  3. Pre-emptively drafting a reply- considering trademark objection as an expected outcome


Preventing objection might not be possible because once your application goes to the trademark department, the matter becomes out of your hands. However, with the right experts by your side, you can deal with any trademark objection reply that comes your way.

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Dushyant Sharma
Author: Dushyant Sharma

Hey there, I'm Dushyant Sharma. With the extensive knowledge I've gained in past 8 years, I have been creating content on various subjects such as banking, insurance, telecom, and all the important registration and licensing processes for various companies. I'm here to help everyone with my expertise in these areas through my articles.

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