Trademark registration is a chief asset in an online economy. During the time of online sales, a dominant factor that can aid in a business's success is branding. In the 21st century, consumers have a wide range of options, and multiple companies and enterprises are contesting for homogenous markets in such a scenario that it is the branding and not the product that plays a major role in identifying the difference between them.
When one has powerful growth ambitions while starting a start-up or e-commerce business, conducting trademark searches related to your unique product and business can definitely be considered as a time well spent. Protection from the disclosure of trade secrets and unfair competition is guaranteed by Intellectual Property law, which further makes it an asset especially when it comes to digital economy and technology.
The electronic economy empowers the latest companies and enterprises to start and flourish rapidly. Time and again, the objective of a new or existing company is to be acquired by a bigger company than them. In addition to this, most of the companies depend on third-party investors for funding. A trademark that has been registered, plays an important role as it becomes marketable to investors and buyers.
Brand Identity in E-commerce
The reasons why brand identity and consequently registration of a trademark is so paramount is because in the e-commerce market being accomplished includes more than just offering a quality product. Although possessing a good quality product or service constitutes a strong foundation, the speedy advancement of consumer-focused-e-commerce attaches additional elements into the equation.
Online marketplaces are not affected by a time schedule or geography. Due to this, consumers are not required to purchase based on accessibility or nearness: a countless number of online providers sell the exact product that a consumer is looking for and can select the one that calls out to them. In consequence of this saturation of supply, brands play an influential role in decisions related to purchasing.
One another factor determining online sales is consumer trust. The internet is intangible and recommends multiple alternatives but among them, there will be countless scams and products that are lower in quality. Maintaining consistency in one's brand identity helps establishing trust among its consumers, where they will become aware of the brand's logo, name and slogan. A collective certainty can expand when people notice other individuals utilizing a product which almost sets off as an endorsement. Therefore, trademark registration is important to e-commerce markets in order to ensure success in the long run.
When a brand association is positive or even when there is just a recognition of name, there will definitely be a boost in the sales and success of e-commerce. Good brand awareness can time and again lead to major differences, especially in a market where there are multiple choices for consumers to choose from.
Trademark Protection in E-commerce Marketplace
Online selling platforms and marketplaces let all kinds of providers trade in different types of products online, around the globe. However, due to e-commerce, infringement of goods has rather become easy. More and more goods are being purchased by consumers through online platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, AliExpress, etc. Numerous retailers on these online platforms are disingenuously portraying themselves and the goods sold by them as genuine to the consumers with the belief that they will receive quality products associated with that brand but rather land up with a counterfeit product or a low-quality substitute. The effect of such an action can weaken the reputation of your brand.
Most of the sellers who cause such infringements are unidentifiable. Even if a retailer has been eliminated from a site, nothing can really prevent him or her from generating a brand new identity online and kick-off again. If each infringement is attacked using traditional methods, there are chances of it getting expensive quickly. However, just like search engines and social media websites, these selling platforms have made provisions to report sellers and/or their products causing infringements and have their content taken off. It is important to note that trademark registrations are required for such complaint forms.
When it comes to determining jurisdictions in cases related to trademark infringements, the fundamental principle is that the location where the infringement has taken place or the defendant's place of domicile has jurisdiction over the matter. As to the location where the infringement has taken place, differentiation of trademark infringements should be made with respect to physical goods and those connected to the transaction data. In case of the former point, the proposition of establishing jurisdiction at the location where the act of infringement has been committed, where the products that are causing infringement is kept or seized in the traditional economy is still valid. In case of the second point, where the trademark infringement is connected to the transaction data, the plaintiff can choose to use the website server location in order to establish jurisdiction.
For the defendant's place of domicile, if the defendant's identity can be determined, the jurisdiction can be established by obtaining the information of domicile as per the defendant's identity. Usually, the plaintiff lists the Internet Service Provider (ISP) as a co-defendant so as to establish jurisdiction at the Internet Service Provider's location.
In the case of Burger King V. Techchand Shewakramani, the Delhi High Court held that there was ample evidence recorded in order to stipulate that the alleged trademark infringement took place within the Delhi High Court's jurisdiction. The evidence comprised of promotion of the mark Burger King by the defendant in Delhi, queries related to entertaining franchisee within Delhi, public declaration of the defendant's aim to expand throughout the country, advertisements executed to highlight such expansion and so on. The court further pointed out that an infringement of a trademark would emanate on unauthorised reference to such marks as well and not unauthorised physical use of such marks alone.
It can be quite challenging for businesses, both large and small, to build and preserve a brand especially on a platform that changes with the click of a mouse. However, registering a trademark can reduce this load and give mark owners such tools that are unique for the protection of their brand. As explained earlier, trademark registration has the strength to add value and certainty to the rights of a company for buyers and investors. Registering a trademark can be a tool that is indispensable and is definitely something that a company must have in its arsenal before a conflict emerges.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.