Ignorance abrogates the enjoyment of trademark protection
Bangladesh holds a strong legal framework on trademark protection under the Trademark Act, 2009. The Act has clear provisions about the use of trademarks, the rights and the consequence of violation of rights, etc. The significances of trademark laws are mostly unknown to the common people. The Trademark Act contains definitions of all the aspects related to trademark such as 'mark', 'registration' 'distinctive' etc., so that no confusion can arise on interpreting the trademark law.
We can find the guideline on how to register a trademark from section 3 of the Act. So, a person or a company can easily generate their own trademark for their legal entity. The company name and the signature of the applicant is necessary to apply for trademark. One or more new or novel invented word is required for the process. To make the word more distinctive, one or a few words referring to the goods or service's significance, geographical indication, surname or common name or abbreviation of cast, tribe, good or any other distinctive identity could be used according to section 6 of the Trademark Act. If we can help people know about procedure of registering their trademark and the benefits of utilising it, they may stop violating other's trademark rights and enjoy exercising their own. But the lack of knowledge regarding the trademark protection leads to violation of the law and we can observe reluctance among the consumers about the violation of their trademark protection.
We most often find tendency among people to copy other's renowned trademarks into one's business in Bangladesh. For example, numbers of restaurants addressing themselves as "Hazi Biriyani" in Dhaka International Trade Fair can be observed but the original food chain "Hazi Biriyani" denies their involvement with them. But they do not take any legal actions which technically motivates these dishonest entrepreneurs to continue violating intellectual property laws. Most trademark holders are reluctant about the violation of their trademarks. One of the major reasons of their reluctance is their lack of knowledge about their rights protected in section 10 of the Act. The provision mentions that no trademark shall be registered which is similar or identical to another trademark which is registered under another proprietor's name. Not only that, the applicant has to advertise his application so that potential adversaries can oppose the claim of the trademark if their rights are violated according to section 17 of Act.
The consumers have no idea that they are entitled to remedies if trademark laws are violated. But the Trademark Act has clear provisions about falsifying and falsely applying trademarks. The consumer can compel any person falsifying or falsely applying their trademarks and they shall be punished with imprisonment extending from 6 months to 2 years or fine of 50 thousand to 2 lac taka or both according to section 73 of the Act.
Citizens of Bangladesh are quite dazzled when it comes to intellectual property law. But these laws are necessary in our day-to-day life. We should raise public awareness about intellectual property laws especially the trademark laws.
The writer is student of law, University of Barishal.