A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that differentiates & identifies the sources of goods and services of one entity to those of others in the given market. It protects a brand by ensuring that no third party can undermine the goodwill of the same. As per section 2(1)(ZB) of the trademark act, 1999, the trademark refers to a mark that is capable of being manifested graphically & capable of distinguishing the services or goods of one entity from the rest, & may include the shape of goods or their colour combination and packaging. The write-up will facilitate some useful insight into the significance of Trademark registration in Entertainment Industry. As per the reliable source, the overall valuation of the Indian entertainment sector stood at Rs 1.38 trillion in 2019, which further may extend to Rs 1.80 trillion at the end of FY 2021.
Motion pictures and song titles are always a prime target for infringers because they adhere to healthy monetary value. Since they are nothing short of an asset for the producers, it becomes essential to safeguard the same with and apt IP protection such as copyright and trademark. By doing so, they will rejoice in the exclusive right over these assets and protect the interest of everyone responsible for their production.
Role of Trademark registration in Entertainment Industry
The ever-rising rate of infringement has forced the entertainment industry to opt for trademark protection. The trademark protection plays a vital role in securing intangible assets like motion picture title, band name, and song title, thereby ensuring peace of mind for the producers.
The prominence of a trademark in the entertainment industry cannot be undermined. Artist’s or band name is the most valuable attribute as it facilitates unique identity to the creator. The artist name is an unprecedented medium of recognition, and it is the only thing that characterizes an artist in the audience’s minds.
Associating a song with a specific brand name or song title facilitates that artist or band actual value. The same notion applies to the film title as well, and it can also be registered under trademark protection.
Several societies, such as the association of Motion pictures & Television Programs or the Indian motion pictures producer’s association, render moderate protection to film titles against the act of infringement through registration.
Though such a registration lacks legal ground, the court might permit the plaintiff to submit the same in case of legal dispute. Motion picture titles are protectable under class 41 of the 4th schedule of trademark rule, 2001, which essentially renders coverage to services classified as entertainment.
There is no denying that Trademark registration in Entertainment Industry is nothing short of a boon for film producers and music creators.
Read our article:Overview on Cost of Trademark Registration
Trademark protection to Motion Picture titles in India
The Indian entertainment sector generates massive revenue every year by releasing a flurry of motion pictures pan India. The so-called “Bollywood”, the primary contributor to the entertainment industry, releases more than thousands of motion pictures annually, more than its counterparts globally. It churns out revenue of approx. $1.8 billion yearly.
The Indian entertainment sector earned the title of industry in 2001, and since then, it has witnessed massive growth both in terms of money and credibility. The increased recognition has helped them secure the support of overseas players and investors, including 20th-century fox, Viacom Motion Pictures, Warner Brothers and so forth.
The shift is remarkable, but the ever-rising growth has pushed this industry in the zone where it finds its future in danger because of growing IP issues. The lack of adequate protection has stimulated the growth of piracy, which today has become a primary deterrent to the film sector.
But, Trademark registration in Entertainment Industry can help films producers to keep such threats at bay.
Legal protection to song title under Trademark Act, 1999
Song’s producer can avail copyright protection only if the title is a vital part of the work itself. As the title have a connection with the original work, it may be protected under the trademark act, 1999. Copyright or trademark protection is still moderately used by song creators in India. The song title “‘Why this Kolaveri di’ was the first-ever song to be protected under the Trademark Act, 1999.
Anyway, the application was objected & Sony Music entertainment has failed to avail the protection. Trademark protection under classes 9 and 41 facilitates legal protection to the film title and capitalize it to make cassettes and compact discs, and so forth.
Because of inadequate clarity on song title protection, there is a flurry of queries on which the law needs to render the clarification.
Another problem with song title protection is that the trademark registration will lose its legality if it remains unutilized for five years.
Scope of protecting trade dress from the Indian viewpoint
Trade dress refers to a visual attribute of a product containing its colour, size, packaging, etc., which might be protectable under trademark law. Its aims to safeguard end-users from deceptively similar products made to trick the consumers by convincing them they are making a legit purchase. Trade dress is still protectable under Trademark Act, 1999. However, sector 2 of the same act facilitates a legal framework to protect trade dress by broadening the scope of a trademark to encompass the shape of goods, colour, & packaging.
Initial interest confusion doctrine’s application in ensuring Trademark Protection for Film’s title
End-users are likely to get confused if two more similar goods/services leverage the trademark of an identical nature. Media & entertainment entities leverage the same and prepare trademarks imitating the popular brand to exploit its goodwill. In the legal landscape, this is called initial interest confusion. The doctrine turns out to be relevant to motion picture titles as section 29 of the trademark act, 1999 specifies that a protected mark is infringed if the deceptive similarity between two marks is likely to trigger confusion in terms of source identification.
Trademark registration in Entertainment Industry is playing a vital role in securing valuable film projects and music albums by rendering required protection. Apart from that, it also facilitates moderate coverage against the act of piracy.
Read our article:An Overview on Document Required for Trademark Registration