Who is a startup?
An entity is considered as a startup if it is incorporated or registered in India and meets the followings conditions:
- more than five years have not lapsed from the date of its incorporation or registration;
- the turnover for any of the financial years, out of the aforementioned five years, has never exceeded rupees twenty-five crores; and
- is working towards innovation, development, deployment or commercialization of new products, processes or services driven by technology or intellectual property
- Has not been formed by the splitting up, or reconstruction, of a business already in existence.
- The entity as mentioned above shall cease to be a startup on completion of five years from the date of its incorporation/registration or if its turnover for any previous year exceeds Rupees 25 crore.
An entity is considered to be working towards innovation, development, and deployment or commercialization of new products, processes or services driven by technology or intellectual property only if it aims to develop and commercialize:
- A new product or service or process, or
- A significantly improved existing product or service or process that will create or add value for customers or workflow.
Benefits of Getting a Name Trademarked
If somebody says that getting a trademark registered is waste of money and time, then they surely would not know what benefits a registered trademark gives:
- It helps in securing the identity of the trade name in the market, that no one can copy it and use the same.
- It helps in securing the domain name of the company as discussed above.
- Although by registering trademarks, one can use the same name if he/she wants to open a separate legal entity.
Why should you be concerned about protection?
When you are in the very early stages of a startup, you might undergo a lot of changes – in name, purpose, industry, etc. If that happens, then you need to redo the whole process. For most early stage entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping and yet to attain traction this additional legal overhead might not be worth it. Once you have really market tested with the customers that your ecommerce site is “not the same as others” maybe you could step in to protect your brand better. Usually, if you are the first one to use the brand name in that specific industry you have a better claim on the brand when you decide to file. Thus, you might want to wait to attain a bit of traction before filing traction.
- Protecting your valuable assets: As soon as you are planning to invest in your branding and marketing, then your trade mark should be a priority. If you don’t protect your brand name then you may have to change your company name or trade mark further on down the line, which can be very damaging for business. Registering a trade mark can also help you attract new investment. Potential investors will check if the company has a trade mark before they commit to you; having a trade mark shows you are serious and ambitious about the reach of your product or service.
- Saving your startup from ‘trade mark trolls’: registering a trademark early in your business prevents you from falling prey to trademark trolls. Trademark trolls register a trademark with no real intention of trading under it, but simply using trademark as a leverage and bartering tool, to gain money from other enterprises. It is effectively trademark squatting. If you fall victim to a trademark troll who is found to be in good faith, you might not be forced to change your name, but the legal fee can be very costly indeed.
- Having a unique brand name: trademark problems are always not so insidious. Sometimes you might find that trademark infringement can be totally incidental. Startups can have lot of competitions. Make sure you have done your research and you are not competing for your brand name or identity, or could be infringing on someone else’s trademark by accident.