Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel joins global league, acquires image trademark
WHAT’S IN IT? A trademark identifies the brand owner of a particular product or service and serves as badge of origin
NEW DELHI: Hotel Taj Ma hal maybe set to join the big league of buildings that have an image trademark, the likes of Empire State Building in New York, BurjKh alifa Dubai, Eiffel Tower in Paris and Sydney Opera House etc. But first what exactly is an image trademark and what is the benefit of acquiring it?
A trademark is are cog ni sable sign, design, expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others.
In layperson terms, a trademark identifies the brand owner of a particular product or service and serves as a badge of origin. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organisation or any legal entity. According to leading lawyer Sudip Mullick, partner, Khai tan& Co .,“The owner of a trademark upon registration thereof, is entitled to the exclusive use of the mark and prohibit the use of the mark by others upon or in relation their goods or services. The exclusivity is with a view to protect the misappropriation of the goodwill and reputation associated with the particular mark by third parties without the authorization of the owner of the mark. The benefit of acquiring the registration for the image of the building is that no third party can use are presentation of the image of the building as a trademark.” The owner of a trademark may pursue legal action against infringement.
However trademark protection for an image of a building is not a common occurrence. Explains Nishad Nadkarni – Associate Partner, K ha it an& Co -“The owner of a particular building/ structure would be eligible to register the building as a trademark if the structure of the building is distinctive, associated with the owner in such a manner so as to be capable of distinguishing any products or services upon or in relation to which it is used as those originating from the owner of such building.”
Has Taj Mahal hotel got its image trademark? According to legal luminaries, there appear to be at least three applications for images of various aspects of the hotel building, one of which is pending and two of which have proceeded to registration. While no objections were raised by the Trade Marks Registry office (T MR) with respect to the two registered marks during the examination stage, an objection as to non-distinctiveness has been raised in the third application. The trademark registration application is still pending, confirms Mullick.
But how much time does it typically take from the time one applies to the time one acquire sit. According to N is had Nadkarni– Associate Partner, Khaitan & Co, “In the event that there are no objections raised by the TMR in the course of the examination process the registration process usually takes about 1.5 years to two years. In the recent past, the processing of applications bythe TMR has become quite fast. The registrations which have been granted have taken less than a year to be granted since there were no objections raised by the TMR – the applications were made in October 2016 and the registration was granted in May 2017. However, if there are objections raised by the TM Rori ft here are opposition proceedings, then it is likely to take much longer for the mark to proceed to registration. The third application which was also made in October 2016 is pending since the T MR has raised objections in the examination report.”
The benefit of the trademark is that it will ensure that commercial use of the image of its dome and grand exterior can be made only with the consent of Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris. Explaining the need to acquire a trademark, Rajendra Misra, Sr. VP, General Consul, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris explains -“We felt strongly about protecting and bringing forth the distinctiveness of this most recogniSed building in India. For more than a century, the Taj dome has anchored the Mumbai skyline–it is an irreplaceable part of the soul of the city. It ultimately leads to protecting the goodwill of the hotel.”
Who designed this building? Apparently, senior architect Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya signed the plans for this grand hotel that he and D.N.Mirza submitted to JamsetjiN. Ta taint he late 1890s. When Sit ar am died of malaria in the 1900s; his work was then taken over by W. A. Chambers, who modified the central dome and its surrounding satellites into what the company spokes- person calls as“a less exotic compromise between F. W. Stevens Oriental and Florentine Renaissance. Although less dramatic than it might have been, the massive 240- feet high central dome has become one of the distinctive landmarks of Mumbai city.”
The Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai.