Is the rise of NaMo trademarks a case of sipping while the tea
is hot? Vikrant Rana and Ritika Mogha find out
Having won a spectacular landslide victory for the Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 general elections, prime minister
Narendra Modi has changed the way that India will look at election
campaigns forever. His election campaign was unprecedented in terms
of outreach and innovation as he addressed approximately 440
historic rallies, travelled 300,000 kilometres covering 25 states
in a period of just eight months.
It has been one of biggest mass mobilization exercises seen
anywhere in the world. The mood of the nation has been well
captured by trademark filing trends which clearly show the
influence of prime minister Modi and his campaign.
The term "NaMo", often used by the media to refer to
prime minister Modi, has gained enormous popularity and is being
commercially exploited by various individuals and entities. It has
undoubtedly influenced several entities into filing trade marks for
NaMo and its variations as shown in the table below.
The high trademark filing trend for NaMo-related trade marks in
2001, 2013 and 2014 may be related to prime minister Modi's
political career. In October 2001, he became the chief minister of
Gujarat for the first time. In 2013, he was named the BJP prime
ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections. And in 2014, he was
sworn in as the prime minister of India following a historic
It is pertinent to mention that most of these trademark
applications are in the initial stage of examination and have a
status of either "new application" or "formality
check pass" on the Trade Marks Registry's website.
Further, none of the trade marks appear to have been filed either
by the prime minister or his political party.
NaMo for tea
During the campaign, Modi, in virtually every appearance,
reminded voters that he was the son of a tea seller and recalled
how he used to work in a tea stall during his childhood. He also
praised Indian democracy for giving a tea seller the opportunity to
fight for the position of prime minister.
Probably in view of his focus on being the son of a tea seller,
the Indian Trade Marks Registry recorded an enormous rise in
trademark filings for the mark NaMo and its variations, especially
in class 30 for the specification tea and coffee beverages. Some of
the NaMo variation trademarks filed for class 30 in 2014 include
"Namo CTC Chai", "Namo Tea", "Namo
Chai" and "Chetak Namo Gold Tea".
Furthermore, Modi's distinctive ways of campaigning such as
chai pe charcha (discussion over tea) have also been used
by hotels and restaurants to promote their beverages.
Entities have filed applications for marks containing the term
"chai pe charcha" in classes 30 and 43 in respect of tea,
coffee and other beverages as well as for the service of providing
food and drink. A close observation of such filings reveals that
they were filed in May and June this year, immediately after
Modi's landslide electoral victory.
The sudden increase in the number of trademark applications in
India for the mark NaMo and its variations suggests that trademark
filings are indicative of the wave and mood of the nation.
There have been reports where individual entities have also used
Modi's photo in banners and hoardings to advertise their
products (usually tea) commercially. These moves raise the
important question of how far is it fair to exploit the prime
minister's photo or his popular media name NaMo for commercial
First published in the November, 2014 issue of India
Business Law Journal.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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