This comprehensive article provides an in-depth understanding of trademarks, emphasizing their role in distinguishing goods and services in the market. It outlines the trademark registration process and delves into common reasons for rejection, offering valuable insights for businesses seeking legal protection. The importance of adherence to filing procedures, avoidance of similarity issues, and the selection of distinctive marks is highlighted. Additionally, considerations such as steering clear of offensive language, official elements, and maintaining clarity in representation are crucial to prevent rejection. By addressing these factors, businesses can enhance their chances of a successful trademark registration, ensuring robust brand protection.


What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a distinctive word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these elements that helps identify and differentiate your goods or services from others in the market. It provides legal protection to the owner and helps prevent unauthorised use of the mark by others. The process of registering a trademark can take up to 12-18 months, but it is possible for businesses to establish a brand identity while the application is pending by using the mark 'TM' on their product or brand name for services.

Common Reasons for Rejection of Trademark Application

The officers in charge of the trademark registry carefully scrutinize every trademark application. If they detect any violations of the law or of existing registered marks, they are authorized to reject the application for registration. At this stage, the application status will be marked as "under examination." The following are the reasons why a trademark registration application may be denied.


·         Application process

When submitting an application under the Act, it is crucial to ensure that all the relevant material is filed and presented correctly. The examiner will scrutinize the application to verify that all the necessary procedures have been followed and that all supporting documents are in order. Any errors or discrepancies discovered during this process may lead to the application being rejected. Therefore, it is essential to pay close attention to the filing and presentation of your application to increase the chances of a successful outcome.


·         Similar to a registered trademark

One must always determine whether their mark is identical to or confusingly similar to an existing trademark before filing for one. You can accomplish this by conducting a public search on the controller general’s website for patents, designs, and trademarks, or you can simply hire a lawyer who specialises in trademark applications. The examiner has the authority to reject an application if he determines that the mark being sought is confusingly similar to another mark that has already been registered or is currently registered.


·         Descriptive or Generic Marks

When it comes to trademarks, it's important to keep in mind that descriptive or generic terms may not be accepted. A trademark should be able to distinguish and uniquely identify the goods or services it represents. If the proposed mark is simply a description of the product or service, lacks distinctiveness, or is a commonly used term, the application may not be approved. Therefore, it's crucial to choose a trademark that is both memorable and distinctive.


·         Lack of Distinctiveness

According to the Trademarks Act, a trademark must possess a distinctive quality that sets it apart from other marks in the market. This ensures that it can be easily recognized and distinguished by the consumers. If the proposed trademark is deemed too generic, commonplace, or lacking in uniqueness, the Registrar may reject the application. Therefore, it is crucial for trademark applicants to carefully consider the distinctiveness of their mark to increase their chances of approval.


·         Offensive Language or Imagery

When it comes to trademarks, it's crucial to steer clear of using names or designs that may be considered offensive or inappropriate. Such usage violates public decency and order and can have legal implications. In fact, trademark examiners are typically stringent when it comes to examining applications containing words or designs that are deemed offensive or inappropriate. Therefore, it's imperative to conduct thorough research and ensure that your trademark meets all the legal and ethical requirements before filing an application.


·         Confusing Terms or Design

It is important to ensure that any mark used on a product does not mislead consumers about the product's origin, manufacturer, quality, material, or any other relevant aspect. Any mark that could cause confusion or deception among customers should be avoided at all costs. For instance, if a fish symbol is used to represent a product, but the product is actually made of red meat, the mark is deceptive and could be ignored by consumers. Hence, it is crucial for manufacturers to use marks that accurately depict their products to avoid misleading consumers.

·         Official designs or words

When submitting an application for trademark registration, it is important to note that the examiner may reject it if the mark incorporates any official words, terms, designs, or images. This is done to ensure that the general welfare is not compromised by the potential confusion that may arise from the use of such elements. If the trademark utilizes any official emblems, logos, or symbols, it may mislead the buyer into believing that the product or service has been approved by an official body. For example, if a trademark includes a country's flag, it will be denied for this reason. It is crucial to avoid using any official elements in trademark designs to prevent any legal issues that may arise from misrepresentation or confusion.


·         Conditions and restrictions

In the process of registering a trademark, an examiner may come across a mark that appears to be valid, but requires some modifications in its usage or appearance. In such cases, the examiner may reject the mark for registration in its current form, and suggest necessary changes to ensure compliance with trademark laws and regulations.

  • Generic Terms and Common Phrases

In order to be eligible for registration, trademarks must be unique and easily distinguishable. This means that trademarks consisting of generic terms, common phrases, or marks that have become customary in the trade cannot be registered. The Registrar's role is to ensure that trademarks are distinctive and capable of being individually identified, so that consumers can easily differentiate between various products and services.



Registering a trademark is a crucial step for businesses to protect their brand identity and gain legal recognition. However, several factors can lead to the rejection of a trademark application. It is essential for applicants to adhere to proper filing procedures, conduct thorough searches to avoid similarity issues, and choose distinctive marks that are not generic or descriptive. Additionally, avoiding offensive language or imagery, steering clear of official designs or words, and ensuring clarity in representation are key considerations to prevent rejection. Overall, a comprehensive understanding of trademark laws and regulations, combined with careful planning in the selection and presentation of a trademark, is vital to increase the likelihood of a successful registration process. By addressing these common reasons for rejection, businesses can navigate the trademark application process more effectively and establish a strong foundation for brand protection.