1. Slogan carry the philosophical burden of a brand. Slogan conveys the message of the business alongside the brand and at times it is the brand or more important than the brand. Slogans give a halo to the business or brand appeal and also referred to a tag line.
  2. Slogan can thus be protected through common law remedy of passing off. The Single Judge of the Delhi High Court in the case of Pepsico Inc. vs. Hindustan Coca Cola Ltd. & Anr. held that slogans can be protected through a passing off action (at para 70), Can Slogan be also protected through under any of the statues.
  3. Trade Mark Applications are filed for registration of Slogan. Slogans are protected as trade mark under Section 2(m) and 2 (zb) of Trade Marks Act, 1999. In the case of Procter and Gamble vs. Anchor, the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court highlighted the importance of slogans:

    "10.......(vi) The use by the respondent/plaintiff of the expression ―ALLROUND PROTECTION‖ in its advertisements and on its product is as a slogan or a tagline. Such slogans/taglines are definitely a trade mark within the meaning of Section 2(m) & (zb) of the Act, being capable of represented graphically and distinguishing the goods of one from another and used for indicating a connection in the course of trade between the goods and the person having right to use the mark.

    (vii) Our experience of life shows that such slogans or taglines as ―ALLROUND PROTECTION‖ in advertisements, grab attention and are sometimes better known than the branded products themselves; such slogans/taglines/expressions are marketing and communication tools par excellence and directly impact the consumers by encouraging them to chose certain goods or services over others; such slogans/taglines/expressions, though may not directly designate particular goods or service but support it in commercial terms by enabling the public to link the slogan/tagline/expression to a specific company or to recall a brand--they are the first line of communication with the consumer;

    (viii) The function of a slogan/tagline/expression is to crisply communicate the ability or nature of the goods or services; the same communicate to the consumers the qualities thereof; often it is found that it is such slogan/tagline/expression which lingers in the minds of the consumers and which remains as an after taste of an advertising campaign; slogans/taglines often become so distinctive of a product that the trademark affixed on the product may need no mention;

    (ix) Slogans/expressions/taglines have indeed become an important tool in the branding and advertisement campaigns, specially in the visual media;

    (x) An effective slogan/tagline/expression is memorable and impactful and make the customers feel good about what they are purchasing and foster more efficient purchasing decisions by creating distinction in consumers' minds;

    (xi) Such slogans/taglines/expressions used repeatedly eventually come to identify the brand and contributes to the overall brand equity;

    (xii) Slogans/taglines/expressions though can be descriptive but are not necessarily descriptive; it cannot however be lost sight of that the slogan/tagline, if descriptive, does not serve the purpose for which it is coined and does not justify the high cost incurred in conceiving and popularizing the same. A distinctive as compared to descriptive slogan, conveys the company's and the product's essence as well as what it aspires to be and conveys the commercial expression to the consumers. It promotes memory recall;...."
  4. Copyright applications are filed for registration of Slogans / tag lines. Slogans are protected as literary work under Section 2 (o) of The Copyright Act, 1957. However, there has been a reluctance to uphold Slogan under the Copyright Act or categorize them as literary work.
  5. Before the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court, in the case of Pepsico Inc. vs. Hindustan Coca Cola Ltd. & Anr., the argument was raised very strongly that the phrase "Dil Mange More" was registered as a Copyright work and should be protected. The Court did not have the occasion to rely on this argument as the Court proceeded to restrain the Defendant on other ground. In the case of Godfrey Phillips India Ltd. vs. Dharmpal Satyapal & Anr, the Delhi High Court held that the slogan were common words and not protectable as Copyright under literary work.
  6. It is a settled law that in a literary work it is never implied that the literary work should have style or merit. Tables, compilations and computer databases are also included as literary work under Section 2 (o) of the Copyright Act. Literary work has been expanded to include question papers, brochures, racing pamphlets, diary, rules of games amongst others. There is no justification for not extending copyright protection to a Slogan or tag line. Authoring a Slogan requires higher level of creativity which generally conveys a message in a very meaningful way. A Slogan which passes the test of originality should be protected as a literary work. Rejecting a Slogan on the premise that it is a collection of only few words, even though original, would be without any legal basis.
  7. Therefore, it is important to register a Slogan / tag line both as a Trade Mark and Copyright. The benefits of registration clearly outweigh the efforts in protecting them under both the statutory laws.

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.