Trademarking a Logo – 10 Things You Need to Know
Registering a trademark for your company name or logo is a relatively simple process. You do not require a lawyer, and you can complete the application online in under 90 minutes.
And did you know, if you are using a logo, you already have what is called a common law trademark?
Meaning you can legally use and amend your logo without the headache of official paperwork.
So, why do you need to read our post, trademarking a logo 10 things you need to know?
Because without an officially registered trademark, your open to common law infringements, meaning your logo can be copied, or worse still, you could lose it if someone else does register it.
If you are still a little confused about the why and how of trademarking a logo, relax.
As we answer all the essential whys and explain the how in our post.
Let us get the law on your side, secure your logo, and ensure no one else can take it from you.
1. What is a trademark logo?
Your logo becomes a trademarked logo once you have officially registered it with USPTO (United States Patent and Registry office), at which time it receives trademark law protection. And it is advisable to apply for trademark registration for your logo, business name, tagline/slogan separately.
- How does a trademark protect you?
A trademark protects your intellectual property (logo, company name, slogan, or symbol) from infringements such as another business using them. Ensuring the investment, you’ve made in developing your brand’s visuals and any reputation associated with them aren’t copied by rivals.
- Is a trademark enforceable around the world?
Unfortunately, no. Trademarking your logo only protects the country of registration; you must apply it separately to each country requiring trademark protection.
2. Why is Trademarking your Logo Important?
There are many advantages to trademarking your logo, and when combined, they’ll help protect you from intellectual infringement and securely establish your brand in your chosen geographical locations.
Here are five reasons why trademarking your logo is important:
- Priority: It’s a case of first come first served, and geographical entitlement. When you register a federal trademark business logo, name, slogan, you have the legal right to use them throughout the United States. Meaning no other business can use similar branding visuals, but what if they do?
- Lawsuits: Once registered as a trademark, you can sue anyone who infringes upon your intellectual property.
- Settlements: If you sue for trademark infringement and win, you will often be awarded damages in the way of financial payment.
- Stop import of Foreign Goods: Another benefit of a logo trademark is that you can stop others from importing any foreign goods that infringe upon your intellectual property. Ensuring a competitor does not undersell you due to cheap labor costs, resulting in diminishing your brand.
- Foreign Registration made easier: By having your logo trademarked in the US, it makes registering in other countries possible, enabling you to expand your brand.
3. Different Levels of Trademark Protection
There are different types of trademarks, each providing varying levels of protection. The one you choose depends upon your brand and business requirements.
Here are the three you need to know about:
- Common-Law Trademark: Automatically applied to your logo upon your first time using it, without the need of registration of paperwork. However, anyone that does register your logo will immediately obtain all intellectual rights of use and could sue you for infringement.
- State Level Trademark: Protects you within the state you have registered and are trading in. If you are trading as a local business with no national expansion plans, the state level provides sufficient protection.
- Federal Trademark: Provides cross line protection, ideal for brands with national expansion in mind. And there are numerous other benefits to a federal trademark, especially for companies trading online within the United States.
4. How long does it take to trademark a logo?
Trademark logo applications take on average between six to nine months. However, depending on circumstances, they can take longer, sometimes even years, from filing to issuance.
5. What does it cost to trademark a logo?
There are two main costs to consider when trademarking your logo, application, and attorney fees. You can apply without an attorney, and businesses do it successfully all the time. However, you feel the need to use an attorney to ensure everything is beyond question; we advise you to do so.
Registering a trademark with the USPTO can cost up to $660, dependent on your state or federal registration requirements, the number of the intent of use (where and how your logo will be used) you require, and legal needs. If you are using an attorney, expect to pay up to $2000. Note that fees are non-refundable.
The Process of Trademarking Your Logo
The process of applying for a trademark is not complicated. However, before applying, you must ensure your choice of logo is original and unique. And even more importantly, conduct a trademark search to ensure your business name or logo does not belong to another registered business.
Here is how to get your application approved:
6. Trademark Search
Do not waste your time and money by applying for a trademark before you’ve carried out a trademark search to ensure your logo isn’t already taken or there’s a similar one already in use.
In the US, you can search the Trademark Electronic Search System database. It is simple and free to use. Nonetheless, you must pay close attention to any logos that could be considered too similar in design with visual graphics or/and wording, as a similarity can be enough to have your application denied.
If you are unsure, employ a trademark attorney who will use advanced search methods and their legal knowledge to advise before filing for application.
7. Secure Your Logo Rights
Regardless if you’re hiring a designer or designing a logo with one of the many online logo maker sites, they will own the rights until you’ve paid in full, and ownership has been transferred IE (you’ve received the files). Thus, it is advisable not to proceed with your logo application fees until you have secured ownership.
8. Decide on your final version
Once you have your logo, you must be absolutely sure the version you are sending to the United States Patent and Registry office is your final version for the following reasons.
- You can only submit one version: Any changes you make afterward will not be protected, and it is almost impossible to make alterations.
- All fees are non-refundable: If you submit a logo that is similar to another logo already registered, you won’t get a refund.
And determine your logo colors:
You can submit your logo application as either a transparent logo (a black and white version which most businesses do) or in color. If you are submitting a color logo, consider that you cannot change any colors used or even their shade without appealing (rarely works) or applying for a new trademark.
9. Submit your initial application
You can submit your initial trademark application for both state and federal level using the UPSTO website and their Trademark Electronic Application System or TEAS.
Complete the following steps:
- Fill out the initial application TEAS form: And upload your logo file.
- Submit the “intent-to-use” form: Stating how and where you will use your logo. Note, if you want to add future uses, you have to fill in another intent-on-use form.
- Pay all the fees: There’s a base $325 trademark application fee and a $50 per class of usage fee.
10. How to use your trademark symbols
You have two trademark symbols to choose from when protecting your intellectual property: ™ and ®. Both are globally recognized and inform viewers that you hold ownership within your registered country.
It is not compulsory to use either symbol and more often than not, you’ll see brands choosing to emit them to ensure their logo designs a clean and versatile (easy to read and multi usable).
How to add trademark symbols using an Apple Mac or Windows computer:
- Apple Mac: Start by holding the [Option] and “2” keys to get the trademark sign, then hold [Option] and “R” together to produce the registered trademark symbol.
- Windows: Start by ensuring the [Num Lock] key is engaged. Next, press the [Alt] key followed by the number sequence (0174″ to insert the registered trademark symbol) or (0153 to insert the TM symbol).