Absolute and Relative Grounds For Refusal of Registration of Trademark

In India, the trademark refers to secure the exclusive rights to specific logos, slogans or symbols associated with your business. To obtain a trademark, you need to submit an application to the government. Once the application is approved, you will receive a certificate that grants you the exclusive rights to use the trademark. This protects your brand by preventing others from using it without your permission. However, it is important to remember that trademarks require annual renewal to maintain their protection. In this article we will explore the absolute and relative grounds for refusal of registration of trademark.

Absolute and Relative Grounds For Refusal of Registration of Trademark in 2024

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What do you mean by Trademark?

In India, the Trademarks Act, 1999 defines a registered trademark as any visual mark used to differentiate products or services from others. These symbols can include words, designs, company logos, specific colors or a mix of these elements. They are used or planned to be used to show a business relationship between the products or services and their owner.

Why would a Trademark be refused?

To safeguard your brand, it’s essential to register a trademark. However, not all applications are approved. Here are some common reasons why trademarks are rejected under Sections 9 and 11 of the Trademark Act of 1999:

  • Potential Confusion: If your trademark is similar to an existing trademark in the same category, it may confuse the customers. You must conduct a thorough search before applying to avoid this issue.
  • Lack of Distinctiveness: Trademarks should be unique and not merely descriptive phrases. Those trademarks that simply describe the product or service are often rejected. To improve your chances of approval, you must develop a distinctive trademark.
  • Unethical Content: You must avoid the including the offensive, unlawful or scandalous elements in your trademark to ensure the approval. You should ensure that your trademark meets the ethical standards to prevent rejection.
  • Geographical Indicators: You must accurately represent the origin of your products at time of applying for trademark. You must avoid using the misleading geographic indicators or false information. You must be clear and specific in your marketing to prevent misunderstanding.

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Grounds For Refusal of Registration of Trademark

Absolute Grounds for Refusal of Registration of Trademark

Section 9 of trademark Act, 1999 emphasizes the essential elements of trademarks, including their distinctiveness and lack of descriptiveness. It primarily focuses on absolute grounds for refusal of registration of trademark. To get registered in India, the trademark must assure they can effectively identify the source of products or services. There are certain absolute grounds for refusal of registration of trademark. These include:

  • Description of goods or services
  • Lack of uniqueness in trademark
  • Design inherent to the goods
  • Reproducing the official signs or hallmarks
  • Use of generic terms
  • Indication of geographical origin
  • Functional features required for a technical purpose
  • Too similar to a well-known trademark
  • Inclusion of misleading elements
  • Inclusion of national flags, emblems or symbols
  • Contravention of laws or regulations
  • Violation of public order or morality

Relative Grounds for Refusal of Registration of Trademark

Section 11 of trademark Act, 1999 deals with relative grounds for refusal of registration of trademark, considering existing trademarks in the industry. The goal is to avoid confusion or connections between different trademarks, upholding market credibility and clarity while adhering to the legal rights of prior trademark owners. There are certain relative grounds for the refusal of the registration of trademark that can lead to a refusal:

  • If it is similar to a famous trademark in a different industry.
  • If it is likely to confuse with existing trademark.
  • If it is similar to a renowned trademark.
  • If it is applied in bad faith.
  • If it utilizes unregistered but widely recognized trademark.
  • If it infringes upon other intellectual property rights like copyrights or designs.
  • If it uses the personal names or images without authorization.
  • If it violates the geographical indications or traditional terminology.
  • If it conflicts with prior use or registration.
  • If it fails to meet the consent requirements for coexisting trademarks.


To safeguard your brand, it is important to understand the absolute and relative grounds for refusal of registration of trademark. These include both absolute grounds and relative grounds. By familiarizing yourself with these potential obstacles, you can effectively navigate the registration process. Ensuring your trademark meets the necessary requirements and avoids infringement increases the chances of securing its successful registration and protecting your identity of brand.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that comprehensive research and expert advise is crucial before applying for trademark registration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Registering a trademark in India is a formal process that gives businesses and individual the legal ownership over a unique symbol, logo, word, phrase, or design that distinguishes their products or services from those of competitors. To register a trademark, an application must be submitted to the relevant government agency, meeting certain eligibility requirements. Once approved, the owner gains exclusive rights to utilize the registered trademark in commercial activities. Trademark registration plays a vital role in safeguarding intellectual property and preventing unauthorized usage by competitors in the marketplace.

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