Mumbai’s Taj Palace acquires image trademark

Taj Mahal PalaceThe 114-year-old Taj Palace in Mumbai becomes the first building in the country to obtain a trademark registration for its architectural design. The iconic hotel with this registration has now joined the elite trademarked properties in the world which include the Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Sydney Opera House.

Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) applied for this trademark to protect the distinctive design of the building. With this registration, nobody will now be able to use the hotel’s images for commercial purposes without obtaining a license.

This is the first attempt that has been made for a registration of an architectural design since the enactment of the Trademark Act, 1999.

Usually, logos, brand names, combination of colours, numerals and even sounds are trademarked but the registration of an architectural design has never been attempted since the Trademark Act came into force in 1999.

"We have done this to protect the distinctiveness of the building," said Rajendra Misra, general counsel of Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), which runs the Taj Mahal Palace. This property is the flagship of the company contributing a significant portion to its Rs 2,391 crore revenues.

The Taj Mahal Palace which was built in 1903 even before the Gateway of India, acted as a triangulation point for the Indian Navy to show way towards the harbour. During World War I, the property, 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.

"Now-a-days, most of the hotels are cookie-cutters. There are not many which are designed differently," said Misra, adding that it took the company seven months to get the structure registered.

With IHCL trademarking the building, nobody can now use Taj Mahal Palace's images for commercial purposes without paying the company a licensing fee. Currently a couple of stores sell merchandise like photo frames and cufflinks with the hotel's pictures on them. In the recent past, the trademarked Empire State Building dragged a New York resident to court for using its image as a beer logo.


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