The trade marks law in India prior to 1940 was based on the common law system, which was followed in England before the enactment of the first Registration Act, 1875. The first statutory law dealing with trade marks in India was the Trade Marks Act, 1940 which introduced a machinery for the registration and statutory protection of trade marks in India.
The Act of 1940 was replaced by the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 which consolidated the provisions related to trade marks contained in other statutes such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and the Sea Customs Act, 1878.
The Trade Marks Act, 1999 later repealed the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 and is the current governing law related to registered trade marks. The act of 1999 came into force w.e.f. September 15, 2003 vide notification in the official gazette. The 1999 Act was enacted to comply with the provisions of the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement, 1995. Though some provisions for unregistered trade marks have been enacted into the 1999 Act, they are primarily governed by the common law rules based on principles evolved out of the judgments of courts.
The Trade Marks Act, 1999 can be accessed at the following link.