Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles Piyush Goyal recently claimed that 14.2 lakh trademarks were registered in India between 2016 and 2020. He made this statement whole addressing the winners of the National Intellectual Property Awards 2020 on August 17, 2021.
He also compared this number with trademark registrations done between 1940 and 2015 and said a total of 11 lakh registrations were done in those 75 years.
There have been 14.2 lakh trademark registrations in four years between 2016-2020. Compare this to the 11 lakh trademark registrations during 75 years from 1940-2015.— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) August 17, 2021
This is the transformational journey of Trademark registrations in India. pic.twitter.com/8ItVpq6EK7
While one of these numbers is false, the other is misleading. But first, let's understand what are trademarks.
What are trademarks?
Trademark falls under the domain of Intellectual Property and are protected by the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, 2016, which was adopted in May 2016. According to the World Trade Organization, these "rights are given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time".
Other forms of intellectual property include designs, and geographical indicators. India is a member of the WTO and is committed to the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS Agreement).
According to Section 2 (zb) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, a "trade mark means a mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others and may include shape of goods, their packaging and combination of colours".
A registered trade mark means one that is actually on the register and remaining in force. In India, a trademark is registered in accordance with the new trademark rules notified by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, which were adopted on March 6, 2017 to primarily simplify the trademark registration process and to expedite the overall process of trade mark.
Goyal's claim that 14.2 lakh trademarks were registered in four years (2016-2020) is false. FactChecker found that the total number of trademarks registered from FY 2016-17 to FY 2019-20, were 11,61,953, according to the 2020-21 Annual Report of the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT). A total of 2,50,070 trademarks were registered in FY 2016-17, 3,00,913 in FY 2017-18, 3,16,798 in 2018-19 and 2,94,172 in 2019-20.
FactChecker tried contacting Piyush Goyal, but his office asked us to speak to Rajesh Ranjan, Under Secretary at DPIIT, regarding trademarks. Despite the fact that Goyal specified that his claim is for the period of 2016 to 2020, Ranjan said the minister always quotes updated data.
"Goyal is giving out the most recent and updated data which is as of date August 17, 2021. Sometimes there is a gap in the data if it is not uploaded. If the data is uploaded, it is then collected and given to the minister. Thus, he must be giving out the updated data," Ranjan told FactChecker.
In fact, the number of trademarks registered in 2020-21 were 2,55,993, according to a press release by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry dated August 1, 2021. Even if this year's registrations are added (which was not included in Goyal's claim), the total number of trademarks go up to 14,17,946 for five years (from FY 2016-17 to FY 2020-21), which is still less than Goyal's claim of 14.2 lakh.
Also, the number Goyal quotes for 75 years is misleading as it can hold true only if the number of registered trademarks by Indian applicants is considered. According to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade's 2015-16 annual report, "The total number of registered trademarks in India as on 31st December 2015 is 11,97,743 out of which the number of registered trademarks by Indian applicants is 10,59,310."