Are Trademark and Brand Name two sides of the same coin?

18 March 2021

Trademarks and brand names are important assets for a company. A commodity is also sometimes made synonymous with a name or trademark by the goodwill created in the market and the Trademark used. For instance, copying is often used to mean with Xerox (R). This is why many businesses want their trademarks to be protected from anyone that might attempt to steal or misuse their identity. In summary, a brand is a collection of features that individually and/or jointly form a company's identity, and a trademark is a symbol to show that an identifying feature belongs to a brand.

A brand name distinguishes a certain product or business name. When a brand name does its work, it evokes optimistic images and sentiments in people, because brand value can be so high and in some situations, the brand name becomes the part of daily vernacular such as Kleenex (R) mean tissue. Some businesses seek to shield a brand identity by trademarks because of its significance. 

The brand in essence works towards several goals out of which some primary goals would be, to represent the company in public to create maximum awareness and recognition for the organization and its business. This is done by the absolute basics: the brand name (often the trade name), and visually by the logo. The brand is a basket that offers the promise to meet clients' expectations for a certain quality of a product or service. For a marketer, a brand is what represents the values of a company and aims to create awareness and trust. This is created through personal contact with the client in connection with the use of services or products. 

Trademark, however, is a legal means to protect the intellectual property associated with an identifier of a business. The trademark can be in the form of a symbol, logo, design, word, slogan, or combination of several elements. In some instances, even a sound, smell, or taste can be protected. 

Elements essential for a brand:

  • Identity 
  • Image  
  • Personality
  • Character
  • Culture
  • Essence
  • Reputation

Trademark is defined in the Trademark Act, 1999 as, “trademark means a mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others and may include the shape of goods, their packaging and combination of colours.” A registered brand or trade name will act as their trademark. They can consist of a variation of a company's name, a logo, a slogan, sounds or colours. 

Trademarks can be used as a solid configuration of your brand name. The examples as set above are best to understand the difference between the same and the connection between the two. Trademarks often act as a distinguisher between two brands with similar names. Let us take an example of how the trademarks work and what impact they have on branding; one of the best examples would be Havmor, they have their name trademarked for creation of ice creams and have created a niche in the industry and their band speaks of their services and goods offered. In a common man’s parlance if one calls out the name “Havmor” one can without giving a second thought understand the context of the conversation, that would be regarding ice creams and related services. One cannot think of Havmor selling shoes and there comes branding in picture.

Objectives of Brand names and Trademark

The purpose of a brand name is to provide a simple way of recognising and remembering the name that gives good response in consumers. Many consumers, for example, tend to purchase brand name brands because of their perceived importance, compared with the generic kind.

Legal protection of the brand name is provided by a trademark. The corporation may request legal action by registering itself against those who, without permission, copy or use the brand. Hence maintaining the brand value in the market and the monopoly over the said name for particular services.

Let us go a little further, and understand this in depth. A brand value is one of the most important criterias that hold a company together. The trademark following the brand name is to ensure that the brand value remains as high as one expects it to be. The creation of Intellectual Property requires a considerable investment, as does its subsequent protection. A clear value must economically justify all this. 

It is clear that trademark and brand are closely linked and can't be separated. A brand can be referred to as the representative element of a company's corporate image, which builds and develops over time by creating trust and goodwill in the market by means of providing quality products and services, this is where we can take an example of Amul, which has created its brand value by providing quality products in the field of dairy and has created a market value basis the same, while a trademark provides legal protection for the brand. As companies don't want to lose the investment they made in creating their brand, they must seek an attorney’s help and work towards trademark protection for their company. Once the trademark is registered people can have the eligibility to claims and oppose anyone who tries to steal the market with their brand value created. 

Types of trademark available to a brand owner

  • Service Marks
    Service Marks are those that are available to protect marks used in industry to protect one’s services. Companies that provide services like computer hardware and software, beauty and health care, advertising, etc are some of the examples of service mark category and the like are now in a position to protect their brands. These typically fall under class 36-45 of the trademark act as provided by the EUIPO which is followed by the Trademark registry
  • Collective Marks
    Marks being used by a group of companies can be protected by the group collectively
  • Well-known Marks

Marks which are deemed to be well-known have been defined by the Trade Marks Registry. Such marks enjoy greater protection

A concluding note

The brand name is a memory hunch for users, a creation and impression to identify the product or service.  The Brand name is an essential part of a brand. It is used to speak, write or, identify the product or service to distinguish from other similar products within a group/category. The fundamental concept of brand name should not be confused with the trademark. Conceptually, the trademark is said to be a brand name or a part of the brand name that is legally protected.

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