4 things to know when obtaining a trademark for your ecommerce businessMarch 25, 2021 By Dinesh Parmar
While digitization has immensely simplified the online shopping experience for customers, it has also added certain challenges for businesses themselves. Ever since businesses have moved online, a lot of their assets have become digital, existings in the form of Intellectual Property. Unlike local retail businesses, it has become far more difficult to protect these assets and collaterals from being robbed by impersonating businesses.
Which is why, when starting any business, whether online or not, irrespective of the size and scale of operations, one should at least get the company name, domain name and key slogan registered. Additionally, unique products should also be trademarked to secure the prospect of growth and protect it against counterfeit products.
As important as it is important to protect your brand from imposters and infringing businesses by getting a trademark registration, it is especially important to ensure that your business doesn’t infringe on other existing ones. This is specially important in the e-commerce world where infringement lawsuits are easy to be dragged into.
The best way to watch your step is to run a search to find out whether your desired trademark is already in use before your business goes live, and file for a trademark immediately if it isn’t. If your e-commerce business is a third-party seller for other brands, you must ensure that you have all the permissions in order to use the branding of those products and to advertise & sell them on your platform.
Here are some factors you should look into when considering trademark protection for your e-commerce businesses:
1. Confirm ownership of your intellectual property
If your e-store was set up through a contract with a web-development company, you may not necessarily own the rights to it by default. Which is why you should clearly confirm the ownership and your rights on the intellectual property of your business, i.e the copies, images, descriptions, logos, databases, source codes and scripts used on your website through your web-agreement. As a e-commerce website, it is extremely important to ensure exclusive rights over your IP for legal purposes, to avoid future disputes as well as for the trust and integrity that your customers are about to place on your website.
2. Additional support from e-comm marketplaces
Online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy & Ebay protect additional opportunities and support to registered brands & businesses because they can back up its authenticity. For example, Amazon’s Brand Registry provides additional marketing opportunities, ‘Trusted by Amazon’ stamps and certifications, better counterfeit protection, and systematic analytical data to Amazon Sellers who are part of the program, a basic requirement for which is a registered business with a protected trademark.
3. Value addition for business
Proper registration and protection of the intellectual property of a startup or an ecommerce business helps add value to it by building a solid foundation for trust. This not only improves brand recall and recognition but also aids when the business wants to expand through other factors like social media promotions & online marketing, all of which can be additionally monetized if and when you wish to sell or acquire the business.
4. Stronger brand image
New businesses, especially the ones whose starting point is online, can find it difficult to create a sense of trust in the minds of consumers. It is often difficult to differentiate them from fraudulent and conning online businesses. A registered business with a well-protected trademark can help improve the brand’s positioning and image, making them appear more authentic and legitimate.
The process to register a trademark for e-commerce businesses in India is almost similar to the process for other businesses:
Step 1: Trademark search on intellectual property database
Step 2: Filing of trademark application
Step 3: Trademark examination
Step 4: Publication of trademark
Step 5: Registration & Certification
It is also possible to file for the registration of components of your trademark, such as the name, before actually setting up the business, when your digital platforms are still under development. And then, you may start using the registered collaterals once your e-commerce platform is set up and your business operations begin. Additionally, for trademark filing of an e-commerce business, it is important to file for Class-35 as it is the signing class for registration of your E-commerce businesses.
Additionally, when looking at trademark protection for e-commerce businesses, it is not enough to protect the name, logo & product names of the business. The domain names (URLs), social media properties & profiles as well as any collaterals that go online should be properly protected through trademark registration.
Apart from helping you distinguish your brand from your competitors and helping you communicate effectively with your audience, our trademark lawyers at Parker & Parker also assist with registering a trademark in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India specifically for e-commerce and online businesses. We also investigate, when required, potentially infringing trademarks and conduct periodic searches of the Internet for third party domain names and websites containing infringing data.