GENERAL UNDERSTANDING:

As physical properties are transferred, the same way trademarks are also transferred. This transfer of trademark is called Assignment of trademark. In general terms, Assignment means transfer of title, rights, interest and benefits from one person to another person.

Thus, Assignment of trademark means transfer of Owner’s title, rights, interest and benefits to other person. The transferring party is called as “Assignor” and the receiving party is called as “Assignee”.

STATUTORY DEFINITION:

Section 2(1)(b) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 “Assignment” means an assignment in writing by the act of the parties concerned;

WHO CAN ASSIGN A TRADEMARK:

As per section 37 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, the person entered in the register of trademarks, as the proprietor of a trademark, shall have power to assign a trade mark and to give effectual receipt of for any consideration for such assignment.

Trademarks Sign on white paper

ASSIGNABILITY OF REGISTERED OR UNREGISTERED TRADEMARK:-

As per section 38 of the Act, a registered trademark can be transferred with or without the Goodwill of the business concerned either in respect of all the goods or services in respect of which the said trademark is registered or of some of the goods or service.

Moreover, as per section 39 of the Act, an unregistered trademark may be assigned with or without the Goodwill of the business concerned.

 TYPES OF ASSIGNMENT:-

1. Assignment with Goodwill of Business: Where an assignor assigns to the assignee, the value, rights and entitlements also, as associated with a trademark with respect to the goods or services already in use by the assignor. After taking over the goodwill associated with the trademark, the assignee is free to use the trademark assigned to him for all goods or services including for the goods or services which were already in use by the Assignor. Such assignment is called assignment with Goodwill of Business.

For Example: Mr. X is the owner of a trademark “TM” who is already using the said trademark “TM” in relation to clothing and footwear. Mr.  X assign to Mr. Y the said trademark “TM” through an agreement (in writing) in relation to clothing and footwear alongwith the Goodwill associated with trademark “TM”.

In this case, Mr. X has also assigned to Mr. Y, the Goodwill associated with trademark “TM” for the business of clothing and footwear as well as for other goods or services. Therefore, Mr. Y is eligible to use the said trademark “TM”, for clothing and footwear including other goods or service dealt by Mr. Y.

2. Assignment without the Goodwill of Business: Where an assignor assigns to the assignee, the right and entitlements in a trademark with respect to the goods or services which are not in use by the assignor. In other words, where the assignor restricts the assignee with a condition that the assignee is not entitled to use the trademark assigned in relation to the goods or services already in use by the assignor. Such assignment is called assignment without the Goodwill of Business.

For Example: Mr. X is the owner of a trademark “TM” who is already using the said trademark “TM” in relation to clothing and footwear. Mr. X assign to Mr. Y the said trademark “TM” through an agreement (in writing) in relation to goods or services other than clothing and footwear without assigning the Goodwill associated with trademark “TM”.

In this case, Mr. X has not assigned to Mr. Y, the Goodwill associated with trademark “TM” for the business of clothing and footwear. Therefore, Mr. Y is not eligible to use the said trademark “TM”, for clothing and footwear. Thus, in case, Mr. Y wishes to use the said trademark “TM” in relation to other goods or services then he will be required to create separate Goodwill for trademark “TM” for such other goods or services dealt by him.

RESTRICTION ON ASSIGNMENT OF TRADEMARK:-

1. Parallel use Restriction: Where assignment results in creation of exclusive right in different persons, in relation to same or similar goods or services and the use of the trademark will be likely to deceive or cause confusion. Thus, multiple exclusive right in relation to same or similar goods or services, in different person is not allowed. This prevents the parallel use of a trademark by more than one person concerned in relation to same or similar goods or services. (Section-40)

2. Multiple Territorial use Restriction: Where the assignment results in creation of exclusive right, in different person in different parts of India, in relation to same or similar goods or services. Thus, assigning of scattered right in different parts of India is not allowed. (Section-41) 

PROCEDURE FOR ASSIGNMENT OF TRADEMARK:

Assignment with the Goodwill of Business Assignment without the Goodwill of Business
  • Trademark Pending for Registration

Relevant Form: TM-M

Statutory Fees: Rs. 1,000/- (offline filing)

or

Rs. 900 (online filing)

  • Registered Trademark

Relevant Form: TM-P

Statutory Fees: Rs. 10,000/- (offline filing)

or

Rs. 9,000 (online filing)

  • Trademark Pending for Registration

Relevant Form: TM-M

Statutory Fees: Rs. 1,000/- (offline filing)

or

Rs. 900 (online filing)

  • Registered Trademark

Relevant Form: TM-P

Statutory Fees: Rs. 10,000/- (offline filing)

or

Rs. 9,000 (online filing)

Note: As per section 42 and rule 81:

First file TM-P (within six months of assignment or extended period of three months) for obtaining direction of registrar for “advertisement of assignment without goodwill” alongwith statutory fees of Rs. 3,000/- (offline filing) or Rs. 2,700/- (online filing). Secondly, file the above said TM-M or TM-P, as the case may be.

REGISTRATION OF ASSIGNMENT OF TRADEMARK:

1. A person (subsequent proprietor) who becomes entitled by way of assignment, shall apply for registration of assignment before the Registrar of trademarks. (section 45)

2. After due satisfaction of the Registrar of trademarks, the Registrar shall enter the details of the assignee (subsequent proprietor) as the proprietor of the trademark assigned to him in respect of goods or services for which the assignment has been made. (section 45)

3. Where the validity of assignment is in dispute between the parties, the Registrar may refuse to register the assignment until the rights of the parties are determined by the competent court. (section 45)

4. Registrar of trademark shall dispose of the application for registration of assignment of trademark within a period of 3 (three) months from the date of receipt of application. (rule 76 of Trade Marks Rules, 2017)

5. Registrar may, where there is reasonable doubt about the veracity of any statement or any document furnished, may call upon any person who has applied to be registered as proprietor of a registered trademark to furnish such proof or additional proof of title as the Registrar may think fit. (rule 77 of Trade Marks Rules, 2017)

6. Where in the opinion of the Registrar any document produced in proof of title of a person is not properly or sufficiently stamped, the Registrar shall impound and deal with it as per Chapter IV of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899. (rule 78 of Trade Marks Rules, 2017)

7. Where the Registrar has allowed the registration of assignment, then there shall be entered in the register the particulars as follows(rule 84 of Trade Marks Rules, 2017):-

a) the name and address of the assignee;

b) the date of assignment;

c) where the assignment is in respect of any right in the trademark, a description of the right assigned;

d) the basis under which the assignment is made; and

e) the date on which the entry is made in the register.

RIGHT OF THE ASSIGNOR ON ASSIGNMENT OF TRADEMARK:

The assignor terminates to have his rights, title or any interest in the trademark, the moment assignment deed is executed in favour of the assignee, irrespective of the fact that the name of the assignee has not been updated in the record of the Registrar of trademarks.

In the matter of Classic Equipments Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Johnson Enterprises, 2009 (41) PTC 385 (Del), it was observed as follows:

“Once an Assignment Deed has executed, the Assignor ceases to have any right, title or interest in the property assigned. It is not open to the Assignor to cancel the assignment by means of communication”.

RIGHTS OF THE ASSIGNEE: WHEN ASSIGNMENT IS COMPLETE BUT REGISTRATION IS PENDING:

Though as per section 45 of the Act, it is mandated that the assignee shall apply before the Registrar of the trademarks to register his title. But this does not mean that recording of assignment of registered trademark asserts all rights or titles or interest in the assignee.

The reason behind this understanding are the opening words of section 45 of the Act, which says “where a person becomes entitled by assignment or transmission of a registered trademark, ……..”. Therefore, the first condition is entitlement of rights, title or interest by way of assignment or transmission of a registered trademark followed by registration of assignment of a registered trademark. Thus right in assignee does exist even before the registration of assignment.

In the matter of M/S. Modi Threads Limited vs M/S. Som Soot Gola Factory And…. on 4th December, 1990: AIR 1992 Delhi 4, 1992 (22) DRJ 24 was observed as follows:

“It is true that the plaintiffs application for getting transferred the registered trade mark in its name in the office of the Registrar is still pending but that does not debar the plaintiff to protect the violation of the aforesaid trade mark at the hands of unscrupulous persons by filing an action in court of law for injunction. It is, prima facie, clear to me that during the interregnum period when the application of the plaintiff is kept pending for consideration by the Registrar of Trade Marks the dishonest persons cannot be allowed to make use of the said trade mark in order to get themselves illegally enriched earning upon the reputation built up qua that trade mark by the predecessor-in-interest of the plaintiff.”

The assignee of a trademark is also entitled to file a civil suit, even though the recording of assignment of registered trademark is pending before the registrar of trademarks. Moreover, section 45 does not confer any title over the trademark assigned. Instead the registration granted under section 45 is only proof of title of the trademark of assignee or the person who acquired it by way of assignment.

IMPORTANT KEY POINTS

√ Assignment is to be in writing;

√  Registered or unregistered both type of marks can be assigned;

√  Assignment can be with or without the goodwill of the business;

√  Event of assignment asserts the rights and title in an assignee not the registration thereof;

√  Registration of assignment is only prima facie proof of title of trademark;

√  Rights in an assignee exists even before registration of assignment of trademark.

Conclusion: –

Assignment of trademarks allows the Proprietor thereof to en-cash their intellect, efforts, time and money. It is equally important to register the assignment of trademark, since on registration the details of the assignee are updated in the register of trademark, this serves as a notice to public at large. Moreover, preparation of assignment agreements are also important as it involves rights, entitlements, interests and obligation including the commercial terms between the assignor and the assignee.

Disclaimer: The entire content of this document has been prepared as per the relevant provisions of the Act and rules made thereunder, applicable at the time of preparation. Though proper care has been taken to ensure accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided therein. The users and readers agree that the information provided in this document is not professional advice. Therefore, we assume no responsibility therefrom. Further, this write up shall not be considered as solicitation in any manner.

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