What is a label?
A label is a mean of marking a product, usually attached or applied to the product. The content is usually determined by the seller or by the manufacturer of the product in accordance with the requirements established by current legislation.
In particular, the requirements to the information to be included are contained in the Consumer Protection Law, Rules for sale of certain types of goods, and GOSTs. In various literature, the labels are classified according to the tasks imposed. For example, there are descriptive labels, labels specifying the grade, promotional labels and others. Sometimes, "tag" designation is used as a synonym.
The purpose of the label is to convey to the buyer the main consumer properties of a particular product. Indeed, almost always, when we come to the store for food or non-food products, we carefully study the information applied or attached to the product.
However, another, no less important function is to attract the consumer's attention to the product. Because the label is a kind of bridge between a product manufacturer, a supplier and a buyer. In this regard, often a lot of money is spent for development of colorful and "selling" labels, and designers, advertising and product promotion experts are involved in their creation. How can a seller or a manufacturer protect their labels, a lot of creative work and certain money are spent for?
Registration of a label as a trademark: details and subtle points
One of the most reliable options is registration as trademarks, since labels usually contain some colorful visual elements (for example, an image of a fictional character), fantasy words, etc. However, when submitting a label for registration, you need to be very careful when choosing the final designation for this purpose. Probably you have to register only some part of the label. This is due to the fact that not all label elements meet the principles and criteria of protectability in terms of trademark registration. Thus, when specifying a calendar date in the label and register it as a trademark (for example, "since 1965", etc.), you will have to submit the documents confirming this date.
It should be kept in mind that Rospatent has developed and approved recommendations concerning, among other things, the registration of labels (Rospatent Order No. 170 dated 30.11.2009). Particularly, the recommendations note that a label is a source of information about the product, having descriptive nature, while a trademark may not consist only of descriptive elements.
A trademark may be an integral part of a label containing also additional elements. Thus, a label may contain the elements that are not protected under the rules of trademark registration, meaning that the rights herein cannot be owned by the only one person (for example, the name of a product type or its naturalistic image). If such elements do not dominate (take less than 30% of the designation), then registration may take place, but these parts of the trademark will be recognized as unprotected.
If the label includes a fancy or a stylized image of the product rather than a naturalistic one, then the chances for its registration as part of your trademark are quite high. However, you should always remember that the decision to register or to refuse to register a trademark (label) is made by Rospatent experts and depends on their subjective assessment.
In addition to the various subtle points of registration, it should be remembered that by choosing only this mean of identification as a trademark as an option for legal protection, there is a risk that competitors will be able to prove that your trademark has not been used for three years after the date of its registration. This may result in termination of legal protection. Thus, in order to maintain the trademark right, it is desirable to use the registered designation and to have the evidence of such use.
Industrial design is an additional protection for your label
In order to ensure maximum protection of your rights in the developed labels, we recommend parallel registration not only as a trademark, but also as an industrial design. What are the advantages of such a "double" registration?
In order to maintain the rights in an industrial design, it is not necessary to use it. The fact of non-use will not affect your right in an industrial design in any way. The content of a label that is patented as an industrial design does not need to be subject to such strict "censorship" as for the trademark registration.
We can summarize that registration of a label as both a trademark and an industrial design will increase its ability to repel attempts of forgery and illegal copying, as well as provide you with the necessary legal tools to protect your rights in the event of their violation.
Our experts are always ready to give you comprehensive recommendations and warn you about the subtle points related to registration of your label.