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India's Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion has clarified the government’s position with regard to foreign single-brand retailers’ sale of ‘sub-brands’. Brand owners expanding their presence in India after the relaxation of foreign direct investment rules should review their trademark strategies to ensure they have adequate protection in place to meet this requirement.
A recent report estimates that the $13.4 billion Indian franchising industry could grow almost fourfold by 2017. The findings suggest vast opportunities for brand owners to take a stake in the country’s booming consumer market but trademark counsel will have to be vigilant to ensure that brands are protected when entering into franchise relationships.
A feature in India’s Economic Times outlines a number of high-profile comparative advertising campaigns carried out by companies operating in the country. Trademark counsel may be surprised at the nature of the comparisons made by advertisers as well as the relatively free rein with which they appear to be able to use competitors’ products in their advertising.
Towards the end of last year, reports emerged from India suggesting that regulatory authorities in the country might be planning to restrict or even ban the use of brand names in the sale of pharmaceutical products. However, as more detail has emerged it is apparent the move is not the threat to trademarks that some speculated.
News from India last week suggested that IKEA’s plans to open its first stores in the country could be hampered by issues surrounding its trademarks. Retailers about to enter the Indian market in light of the country’s relaxation of foreign direct investment rules should make sure their trademark rights are secure.
Last week, the Indian parliament voted to approve foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail in the country, almost one year on since the limit on FDI in single-brand retail was removed. This potentially opens up major opportunities for leading retail chains such as Tesco, Wal-Mart and Carrefour but stringent limitations and a mixed political reaction to the changes may result in a cautious approach from brand owners.
WTR has previously reported on the decision of the Indian government to raise the limit on foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail to 100%, under which any foreign brand looking to take advantage of the new rules must source at least 30% of goods from local SMEs. Six months on, issues have been raised by trademark owners - not least the difficulties of quality control and monitoring mark usage by local partner companies.
Last week’s decision by the Indian government to allow 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retailing has been welcomed by international brands seeking increased presence in the Indian marketplace. Amid the excitement however, it is important to take note of new IP challenges.
Brand owners “are not taking appropriate steps to stop counterfeiting”, claims Indian regional official
A minister from the government of the Indian state of West Bengal has called on trademark owners to be more diligent in reporting suspected counterfeiting to local authorities, arguing that many “do not take it up seriously” when it comes to fighting fakes.
Trademark application and registration rates in India went through the roof last year, indicating success in terms of both streamlining the prosecution process and dealing with a hefty filings backlog. However, it remains to be seen whether the national registry’s human resources can keep up with this positive trend.
Further to our report earlier this week, India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has ratified new trademark registry rules and published final fees some of which are higher than most industry observers had anticipated.
India’s trademark registry will adopt new rules today aimed at simplifying prosecution procedures and improving recognition for ‘well-known’ marks. The changes are also expected to herald significant increases in trademark filing and renewal fees.
Indian study calls for “review” of graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging as illicit trade soars
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has called for a review of current policy regarding cigarette packaging graphic health warnings after research suggested that it may be a contributory factor in the country’s growing illicit trade in tobacco products.
Fairly or otherwise, India is often perceived as a jurisdiction that can tend to present more difficulty than certainty for brand owners trying to protect and exploit their IP rights there. But recent data from the country’s geographical indications (GI) registry suggests that it is pulling ahead of the pack in this particular field though it still has some way to go when it comes to foreign GIs.
The Indian parliament is likely to enact strict regulations governing celebrity endorsements during its budget session beginning later this month, as the debate surrounding the potential impact of the new rules on brand owners’ businesses heats up.
With India registering domains at a leading rate, counsel should reconsider their trademark strategies
There is plenty of evidence pointing to China’s growing role in the ownership and management of web domains, including in the context of new generic top-level domains. But recent analysis suggests that India is also upping its game when it comes to claiming online real estate and trademark strategies will have to take this into account.
Indian trademark held hostage by disgruntled ex-employee amid allegations of potential registry complicity
Police in Mumbai have arrested a builder who allegedly ‘stole’ a trademark belonging to a business he used to work for in the course of a dispute over severance compensation, it was reported this week. In the wake of the alleged incident, questions have been raised about potential fraud at the city’s trademark registry.
A seven-year legal battle between Toyota and owners of the Indian trademark PRIUS has come to an end, with the Japanese automaker claiming victory. The Delhi High Court ruled that Toyota’s trademark rights had been infringed in spite of the defendants’ ownership of the PRIUS mark in India. This should boost the confidence of owners of globally recognised brands looking to do business in the country.
Released worldwide last month, Bollywood star vehicle Fan has attracted mixed reviews from moviegoers and critics. But it is not just declining box office receipts that are causing a headache for the film’s producers. They are also facing a trademark infringement claim from a confectioner whose products were used as a key prop in the movie.
In the wake of recent scandals involving the brands Maggi and Amrapali, Indian politicians are considering the introduction of harsh penalties for celebrities who endorse products and services that are deemed to be detrimental to consumer interests. If realised on the statute books, the proposals could have a significant impact on advertising and trademark strategies on the subcontinent.
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