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

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Nam­rata Kohli feed­[email protected] (Nam­rata Kohli tracks ev­ery­thing from House to Home, from real es­tate to in­te­ri­ors, across key mar­kets in In­dia and glob­ally)

NEWDELHI: HotelTa­jMa­hal­maybe set to join the big league of build­ings that have an im­age trade­mark, the likes of Em­pire State Build­ing in NewYork, Burj Khal­ifa Dubai, Eif­fel Tower in Paris andSyd­neyOper­aHouseetc. But first what ex­actly is an im­age trade­markand­whatis­theben­e­fit of ac­quir­ing it?

Atrade­mark­isarecog­nis­able sign, de­sign, ex­pres­sion which iden­ti­fies prod­ucts or ser­vices of apartic­u­lar source fromthose of oth­ers.

In layper­son terms, a trade­mark iden­ti­fies the brandowner of apartic­u­lar pro­duc­torser­vice 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, Khai­tan& Co., “The ownero­fa­trade­markupon­reg­is­tra­tion thereof, is en­ti­tled to the exclusive use of the mark and pro­hibit the use of the mark by oth­ers upon or in re­la­tion their good­sorser­vices. The­ex­clu­siv­ity is with a view to pro­tect the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tionofthe­good­wil­land rep­u­ta­tion as­so­ci­ated with the par­tic­u­lar mark by third par­ties without the au­tho­riza­tion of the ownerofthe­mark. Theben­e­fit of ac­quir­ing the reg­is­tra­tion for the im­age of the build­ing is that no third party canuse­arep­re­sen­ta­tion of theim­a­ge­ofthe­buildin­gas 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, Khai­tan & Co - “The­ownero­fa­partic­u­lar­build­ing / struc­ture would be el­i­gi­ble to reg­is­ter the­build­ing asatrade­markifthestruc­ture­ofthe­build­ing is dis­tinc­tive, as­so­ci­ated with the owner­in­suchaman­ner­soas to be ca­pa­ble of dis­tin­guish­ing anyprod­ucts or ser­vices up­onor in re­la­tion to which it is used as those orig­i­nat­ing fromthe­owner 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 (TMR) with­re­spect­to­thet­woreg­is­tered 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.

Buthow­muchtime­doe­sit­typ­i­cally take from the time one ap­plies to thetime­oneac­quire­sit. Ac­cord­ing to Nishad 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 madeinOc­to­ber2016andthereg­is­tra­tion was granted in May 2017. How­ever, if there are ob­jec­tion­sraised bytheTMRorifthere are op­po­si­tion pro­ceed­ings, then it is likely to take much­longer­for the mark to pro­ceed to reg­is­tra­tion. Thethir­dap­pli­ca­tion which was also made in Oc­to­ber 2016 is pend­ingsincetheTMRhas­raised ob­jec­tions in the ex­am­i­na­tion report.”

Theben­e­fitof­thetrade­markis 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 pro­tectin­gand­bring­ing­forththedis­tinc­tive­ness of this most recog­niSed build­ing in In­dia. For more than a cen­tury, the Taj dome has an­choredtheMum­baisky­line– it is anir­re­place­ablepartofthe­soul of the city. It ul­ti­mately leads to pro­tect­ing the good­will of the ho­tel.”

Who de­signed this build­ing? Ap­par­ently, se­nio­rar­chi­tec­tSi­taram Khan­derao Vaidya signed the plans­for this grand­hotelthat he and D. N. Mirza sub­mit­ted to Jam­setji N. Tata in the late 1890s. When Si­taram 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- per­son­calls as“aless ex­otic com­pro­mise be­tween F. W. Stevens Ori­en­tal and Floren­tine Re­nais­sance. Al­though less dra­matic thanit mighthave­been, the mas­sive 240-feet high cen­tral dome has­be­come­o­ne­ofthedis­tinc­tive land­marks of Mumbai city.”

HT/FILE

The Taj Ma­hal ho­tel in Mumbai

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