Apple has been vigorously protecting its brand and trademark around the world. In one such example, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) accepted Apple's request last week for trademarks on the minimalist design and layout of its retail outlets.
With a booming e-commerce in India, Apple must be planning to protect its brand and trademark in India as well. Apple has already showed its displeasure for the Asian region, especially in China. In 2011, authorities in the Chinese city of Kunming stopped 22 fake Apple stores from illegally using the company's trademarks after Apple lodged a complaint with authorities.
Since trademark is territorial in nature, Apple must also protect its interests in the Indian territory. Intellectual property rights (IPRs) in India are well known and India has a strong trademark law in the form of Trademarks Act, 1999.
Further, international registration of trademarks under Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol can also be explored by Apple. The Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol and its applicability and implementation in India are still in a flux.
Apple said in its application in May, 2010 that it was not claiming color as a feature of the mark. The mark consists of the distinctive design and layout of a retail store, it said.
Apple must be very careful while engaging in e-commerce activities in India. There are well recognised legal requirements to start an e-commerce website in India and the legal formalities required for starting e-commerce business in India. Similar regulatory requirements do exist in other countries as well.
For instance, Apple was recently fined in Beijing Court for unauthorised e-book sales. Similarly, there are many cyber laws due diligence requirements in India that companies like Apple must comply with in India in order to engage in legally sustainable e-commerce business activities.
There are many techno legal compliance requirements that e-commerce portals, including Apple, Amazon, E-Bay and others, must comply with. At Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we believe that cyber law due diligence, Internet intermediary liability and cyber due diligence for Indian companies must be kept in mind by various e-commerce websites and players.
At the end of the day managing techno legal IP a requirement is of great importance to all concerned who are eying upon India as a market.