On May 17, 2017, trademark registration for the pictorial representations of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel were secured by the Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), which referred to these as “image trademarks”. This was the first instance of such rights being granted to a building in India.
Usually, trademarks are only assigned to company logos and brands, entities that make goods or services, or the goods or services themselves. Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris, by applying for the trademark, demonstrates that it believes that the very look of the building is so recognizable, that anyone attempting to replicate or use it for any commercial reason is trying to cash in on its brand. The trademark registration is in ‘Class 43’ and covers “services providing food and drink; temporary accommodation.” At its most basic level, the trademark means that no one can make commercial use of images of the Taj Palace exteriors without consent. From a practical perspective, when for example, event organizers create memorabilia bearing the city’s skyline which includes the Taj building, this may give rise to legal action, in the absence of a suitable license agreement with IHCL.
This elevates the Taj Palace’s to amongst the world’s elite buildings; the other well-known structures around the world with trademarks are the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, and Sydney’s Opera House.