It is a moment of pride for Mumbai as well as India, that the 114 year old Taj Mahal Palace Hotel which is an inseparable part of Mumbai’s skyline has added another feather to its cap by becoming the first trademarked building in India.
The Taj Mahal Palace was built even before the Gateway of India. It used to act as a triangulation point for the Indian Navy to show way towards the harbour. During World War I, this property which was constructed by former IHCL chairman Cyrus Mistry’s family firm Shapoorji Pallonji & Co, was converted into a hospital. The unique red-tiled Florentine gothic dome which crowns the Indo-Saracenic arches and architraves of the hotel became a symbol of the 2008-terror attacks in Mumbai after images of it being engulfed in smoke broke in the media worldwide.
This famous hotel in Mumbai finally succeeded to secure its place in the exclusive and elite club of trademarked properties in the world with other big names such as the Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Sydney Opera House etc.
Usually, logos, brand names, combination of colours, numerals and even sounds are trademarked but the registration of an architectural design has never been attempted in India since the Trademark Act came into force in 1999. The distinctive architecture of the building made it world famous so the owners IHCL decided to protect this unique heritage by trade marking the building.
This is the first time when a building in India has secured image trademark rights. The exterior and the dome of the hotel now is under trademark registration under class 43 which is limited to using the image for services for providing food and drink, and temporary accommodation. It is registered as device mark under the title- ‘Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Wing Exterior (IMAGE)’ bearing the registration number 3386351.
Many stores used to sell merchandise like photo frame, cufflink, use the image of the hotel for advertising purpose and as a background etc but now nobody can commercially use the hotel image without taking prior written consent or they need to enter into licensing agreement with the Taj Group. But, this further would open the flood gates for litigation as India is still at a nascent stage when it comes to protection of IP.