Design RegistrationTrademark

Trademark and Design Registration: What are the Major Differences?

calendar19 Feb, 2021
timeReading Time: 4 Minutes
Trademark and Design Registration

Trademark and Design registration are two different things. Indeed, either of them is part of Intellectual Property rights, and yes, on a surface, they appear to be the same. But knowing the difference would enable you chooses the right protection for your IP.

Trademark registration renders legal protection to the name, logo, and symbol that reflects the essence of your business. On the other hand, design registration aims at protecting the design of your products. The following section entails the information that lets you understand the basic differences between Trademark and Design registration.

How the Trademark and Design Registration are Different?

How the Trademark and Design Registration are Different

Differences Based on the Definition

A trademark primarily implies a mark or logo that represents your business. It is usually found in various forms such as logo, words or slogan, etc. This mark helps the end-user to distinguish your product from the rest of the competition. A Trademark registration works acts as a protective measure for a company’s intangible assets. 

A design is a form of a diagrammatic representation of a certain product. To safeguard the design from infringement, design registration is done. 

Differences Based on Objective

A trademark can exist in various forms such as a word, logo, mark, or even a word. To that end, it must adhere to uniqueness, but it doesn’t seek innovation.

A design serves a specific objective and an application. It is merely a diagrammatic representation. To that end, it is prepared by the professionals. Therefore, it must be innovative[1] in nature.   

Differences Based on Protection

Trademark registration is meant to safeguard intangible assets like a name or logo that symbolizes a business. The trademark’s appearance determines its relevancy in terms of business objective and nature of goods and services offered by the company. Protection is rendered to secure the trademark against the act of violation. The trademark owner can sue the defaulters as per the law in case of infringement. Further, the trademark is needed before the registration process.

A design registration aims at protecting the design of a particular product. Here, we are not only stressing the product’s appearance, but we are also emphasizing the product’s functionality.

Differences Based on Subjected Act

A registered trademark is subjected to the norms under the Trademark Act, 1999. According to this act, the mark that can appear in a graphical form and distinguish the goods and services of one firm from another firm is eligible for registration.

A registered Design is protected as per the provisions cited under the Design Act 2000. This act talks about the protection of the shape, pattern, ornament, configuration, colors applied to any article, whether in 2D or 3D or both forms, via any means whether, chemical or mechanical, separate or combined, which in the finished product appeal to & judge solely by the eye. 

Differences Based on Statutory Rights

A Trademark possesses some statutory rights. However, the non-registered trademark is not left out under the legal fraternity. To that end, an unregistered trademark is not denied under legal recourse & representation.

A design is also concerns around some statutory rights. However, such rights are not as effective as a trademark. To that end, if the actual article deviated from the documentation of the article, some legal action can be taken.

Read our article:Cancellation of Design Registration in India

Why the Line in Between Trademark and Design Registration is Blurry?

The shape of a product, its color, or packaging might be trademark or design applied to it. The difference lies within the purposes served by trademark & design. While a design applies to a product to improve its aesthetic value, a trademark is applied to a commodity to manifest its source of origin.

A trademark may also project for customer engagement or improve the commercial appeal of the product, but it must act as a bonding in between the product and the manufacturer of the product. If a product’s feature enhances the commercial appeal or aesthetic value, it is clearly manifesting the subject matter of design rights. However, if it improves the above attributes within the line of the act, an overlap between design Trademark and Design registration comes into the picture.

In India, parallel legal protection cannot be requested as per the exiting act, i.e., Trade Mark Act and Design Act. This is because the definition of the Design put the trademark out of the equation. However, it is much debated whether legal protection on the design right & common law protection on a trademark can concurrently exist or not. 

As it is obvious from the aforementioned information, that, the rights under Trademark, and Design registration overlap at times depending on the different scenarios. Henceforth, we recommend you remain extra cautious while enforcing rights under such an overlap area. All the remedies ought to be meticulously consulted with the concerned professionals, and a robust strategy is needed to be drafted to curb the uncertainties.


So that is all about the differences between trademark & design registration. Knowing the differences can help you make informed decisions when it comes to the adoption of IP protection. The overlap between the design and trademark right has been debated for a long time.

Being a part of IPR, this registration seems to render similar protection, at least from a amateur standpoint. While an attractive trade dress strengthens the product’s association within its origin, a catchy designed product improves the commercial value and aesthetic appeal.

However, these two intellectual properties are radically made up of certain common features & tend to overlap each other. The line separating the Trademark and Design registration is blurry. If you need some technical guidance regarding the Trademark and Design registration, feel free to share your concerns with the CorpBiz’s professional. 

Read our article:Design Registration and Protection in India

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