Is it worth registering a trademark in India?

Asia is a great and promising place to do business. The former colonial powers, the most developed economies in the world, do not need convincing. They know it. There is also a second group of countries, less expansive, for whom Asia has been seemingly invisible on the world economic map for many decades. At best, they thought of going there on holiday and doing business on the old continent, in the US or Canada. This attitude left these countries decades behind their Western competitors in the queue for the benefits of Asian markets.

This is exactly what has happened with China, which has only just broken through to many countries. And it is time to get used to India’s growing role.

Is India a second China from a business perspective?

The answer is not obvious. If you compare the economic strength of the two countries today, China is far ahead of India and there is nothing to compare the two countries with. China’s manufacturing capabilities, sophisticated logistics and strong domestic market make it a very attractive but difficult business partner.

But India is also a strong player. It has huge business potential which, if well leveraged and invested in, could position it in the future as a competitor to China, a great manufacturing partner with a large market.

Although India’s infrastructure is less developed than China’s, it has a number of attributes that make entrepreneurs optimistic about doing business with it. One of these is the widespread knowledge of the English language. The ability to communicate freely, even with the owners of small factories or their production workers, cannot be overestimated. Especially when you compare this situation with China.

The widespread knowledge of English is perhaps an under-recognised advantage of India. With the ability to seamlessly understand English-language knowledge resources from the richest part of the world, Indians can draw from the wealth of cutting-edge knowledge. Their strength in IT, pharmaceuticals, biochemistry and space is no accident.

How big is the middle class in India?

Some estimates put India’s middle class at around 100 million people. Others put it at around 430 million, depending on income criteria. Regardless of today’s estimates, it is clear that this social group will continue to grow rapidly in the coming decades. Like their counterparts in Europe or China, they will be receptive to the quality of life offered by metropolitan consumers. Their wallets will be the focus of many expanding companies from around the world. As with the Great Wall, we can expect to see a fierce battle for brand registration or market access in India. What does this mean for businesses? It means that preparations are about to begin.

Register your trademark first, as someone else may be faster.

Expansive entrepreneurs cannot afford to overlook Asia’s booming markets in their plans. India is no different. An economy and consumers that any ambitious company should target and register its trade mark in advance.

The Indian legislature has enacted a rule that grants priority to the first person to file a proper application for protection. This is known as the ‘first to file’ rule. However, there may be a situation where the Office will grant protection to a second filed mark if the applicant can prove prior long term use. The solution is actually quite simple – register the mark first. However, when applying for protection, it is important to bear in mind that an unused trade mark is liable to cancellation if it has not been used for five years.

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