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Coronil Catastrophe and why trademark search is important

Coronil once again has hit a snag, and this time, it's trademark related. In this article, we are going to look into its news and refocus our attention on the importance of uniqueness in trademark
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Ramdev’s Ayurvedic powerhouse Patanjali can’t seem to catch a break. After the debacle of introducing Coronil as a “complete COVID 19 cure” without any scientific backing, the company has hit another snag – and this time in the form of trademark rejection. A Few days ago, Madras high court stopped the Ayurvedic goliath from using the trademark “Coronil” because guess what, someone already owns it, or at least claiming to.

Upon hearing the plea of Chennai-based Arudra Engineering Private Limited, Justice CV Karthikeyan took the decision to restrain Patanjali from putting “Coronil” on their COVID-19 defying product. Arudra claims to have been in possession of the trademark since 1993.

This incidence, and quite a few similar ones, has made us look deeper into the value of trademark search. In this article, I shed a light on its importance and hopefully prevent you from making the same mistake as Patanjali.  

What is trademark search?

There are only two ways that a product or service can stand apart from the rest:

  1.  The product or service is of a singularly unique quality and
  2.  The product or service has a unique trademark.

Looking retrospectively, it’s the unique trademark name that makes people remember the product. It captures their imagination and creates a pathway of growth for those businesses that possess it. That’s why every enterprise worth a salt has a registered trademark. However, in order to acquire a registered trademark you first have to conduct trademark search.  

Trademark search is the process to select the mark of your trade based on the following factors:

  1. Uniqueness.
  2. Relevancy.
  3. Effectiveness.

Your mind can create a relevant and effective trademarks quite easily, but if they are not unique, they aren't worth it. Let's look at a story.

Ramesh’s effective and relevant trademark

Ramesh started business selling furniture through his modest and small shop. The brand he used to sell those products was “Shakti” (power). Business was good. His wife and children were happy, and he had plans for expansion.

Then one day, after two years business, he received a cease and desist notice – ordering him to stop his business and pay for financial damages. The sender of the business was a company that was selling school tables using the same name.

Ramesh’s livelihood got destroyed and now, he works as a foul-mouthed executive at an IT firm.

Ramesh’s story is one of many. He thought that the name “Shakti” was amazing for his furniture. “It tells the customers that my woodwork is strong”, he used to say – implying that the name was relevant.

And the money he made selling his products over the years he was in business, implied that the name was effective.

However, one factor that he didn’t count for was uniqueness. He didn’t conduct a trademark search and all his profits evaporated fighting an intense legal battle that nearly put him on the street.

Why I tell you this story?

There are two reasons that I tell you this story. One, it will help you draw a lesson and two, Patanjali is a popular company, and Coronil, even though it’s claimed to have been registered in 1993, has just now gotten popular– making the news not so relatable to you. In Ramesh’s case though, you can see yourself.

What’s the lesson here?

A trademark has to be unique. It has to be something the legal eyes haven’t seen before.

Such a lesson allows us to filter the meaning of trademark search and give it a more relevant definition.

Trademark search: Redefined

Trademark search is the process of intensively researching a unique brand name / logo that can be registered and protected under the trademark law. Uniqueness is the only factor that should be on your mind when you are conducting trademark search. It ensures that your brand name, regardless of how ridiculous it sounds, is protected from any legal downfall.

Levels of trademark search

There are two levels of trademark searching mechanisms and both of them are necessary to make a brand register-able.

  • Preliminary trademark search: This is the surface level search. A module is available online. It allows the user to enter any trademark name that they can imagine and then it will spit out any registered trademark similar to that name.
  • Deep dive search: The preliminary search, although necessary, often leads to inconclusive results. Thus, the trademark experts conduct a deep dive search in order to get a clearer picture of the uniqueness of the trademark. In this process, they conduct a wide spectrum trademark search across many trademark classes, articles and modules. By the end it yields a complete report that helps you choose a better and more unique trademark.

Importance of Trademark Search

The scales of Ramesh and Patanjali's stories are different, but there is a common factor.

Both situations were avoidable through trademark search.

While Ramesh didn't consider trademark registration, Patanjali did. But both of them could've benefited if they knew the perks of trademark search:

  1. Trademark Search helps you ideate better brand names: As you dive deep into the trademark search paradigm, a whole world of existing ideas opens to you. You find out the names that people can think and the names that can be valuable. Based on those observations, you can find out better brand names for yourself.
  2. Trademark search allows you to filter your brand even more: Much of what we think is good is comprised of fluff, and a brand name is no different. For instance, consider a fictional brand name "All andeverymedicaldevice". It's not only non-register-able because it has common terms mixed, but also because contains a lot of fluff. If you trim the hedges and turn it into "Amediv", you can find an interesting brand name. That's what trademark search does. it identifies the fluff and helps you create a better, narrower and a more precise brand.
  3. Trademark search allows you to research the playing field: Branding is a playing field where the sport is marketing. And there is no better way to inspect such a field than to find out all the players -- the owner of the registered brand names.
  4. Trademark search assures trademark registration: The intense, multi-level trademark search process has one primary goal: to get your trademark registered under the trademark law.

Conclusion: Rely on the act, not the name

Although Patanjali is a big company, with people lining up at its doors for their natural remedies, it got swayed by only the effectiveness and relevancy of "Coronil" while ignoring its uniqueness. Our fictional friend, Ramesh, did the same. He too got swept up in the power of the word while not acknowledging that it's not unique.

Both of them forgot one basic matter:

Let your chosen name defined by your actions rather than it defining your actions.

Think about names like “Gap” or “Kodak, or “Budweiser”. These names were “meaningless” but now, have been made synonymous with things you see everyday:

  1. Gap is a name synonymous with a kid’s apparel store.
  2.  You use “Kodak Moment” to focus on a particularly photogenic and memorable moment.  
  3. When you hear “Budweiser”, you can’t think of anything but beer.

These names tell us a story of success. They started out meaningless but now have carved their own meaning in people's hearts. You can do the same. You don’t have to market your product on the wave of current emotions and choose a common name to get maximum traction. You can rely on uniqueness of your trademark. It will yield you more positive results when you conduct a thorough search. Go through the process, get the trademark registered and then, let your actions speak. They are louder than words anyway.

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