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Suppose you have an accomplished brand but are afraid of threats to it. What should you do to safeguard your logo and brand identity? Here is how to trademark your logo and protect your brand’s identity.

You can trademark your logo on the USPTO website by using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).

Here, you will get a step-by-step guide on trademarking a logo so you can thrive in your business without worrying about it being replicated.

What Is A Trademark?

A trademark could be a word, logo, phrase, or symbol that is sui generis to register. By registering your logo, you get legal protection against fraud and duplicity.

Trademark identifies the sources of the products, services, or goods by linking them to the brand. One of the biggest misconceptions about trademarking a logo is that people believe they legally own a logo by doing so.

However, trademarking the logo lets you own how it is used in your specific good or service. If someone from a different industry uses the same design as yours, you can’t stop them from doing so.

Do You Need To Trademark A Logo?

Before you go ahead and apply to register your logo, ask yourself these questions:

Determine why you need to trademark a logo: If you think that someone can steal your logo, then only you should go ahead and get your logo registered.

According to common law legal protection, if you use your logo to advertise and sell products, you attain common law ownership, and no one can copy your logo.

Is it necessary? If you are a small business owner who sells within the city or your area, then trademarking the logo is optional. Also, you will have common-law legal protection.

However, if you are selling your products nationwide, you might need a registered logo. Don’t worry! In this article, we will explain how to trademark a logo.

Difference Between Trademarks, Copyrights, And Patent

Many people need clarification on trademarks, patents, and copyrights. Look at this table to better understand the difference between trademark, patent, and copyright.

TrademarkCopyrightPatent
What’s protectedA design, word, phrase, or combination of them that indicates the source of a product or service and identifies the good or service to distinguish it from others such as logo designLiterature or the artistic or intellectually crafted work of an author or artist such as a novel, song, movie, painting, photograph, or original software code that exists on public media like social media, paper, film, and canvas.A technical invention or updation such as a mechanical process, complex machinery, a pharmaceutical drug, or a machine design
Requirements to be protected A work must be unique or distinctive so it can be used to identify the source of goods or services.A work must be creative, original, belong to the artist, and be available in a tangible medium.An invention must be obscure, useful, and new.
Terms of protectionAs long as it is being used in business and commerceAuthor’s or creator’s lifetime.Estimated 20 years.
Benefits of Federal protectionProtects it from counterfeits and being copied Protects from copying, making, selling, or using without the creator’s consent.Protects from distribution, copying, displaying, performing, or duplicating the creation.
Example CHANEL for perfume“Anti Hero” by Taylor SwiftThe Telephone: Patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876.

How To Trademark A Logo?

Trademarking is a step in the direction of protecting your logo and design. Let’s learn how to trademark a logo.

  1. Search For Existing Logo

Before registering a logo, search for existing logos to get an idea of what kind of logo gets approved.

You can search for existing logos on the USPTO website by using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). It will give you an idea of how to create a logo design that the USPTO prefers.

Rather than doing all the research yourself, we advise you to hire an attorney to perform the thorough research.

2. Making A Logo

Now that you know the type of logo you are looking for, you can compare your logo. If your logo is as concise as the prototype, then you can proceed to the next step.

Otherwise, you have to create a different logo or edit the existing logo to get it accepted. You can hire a logo designer and ask them to make a similar prototype logo.

3. Prepare The Application

This step is time-consuming and complex because USPTO is very picky with their applications, and the fee is non-refundable.

So before applying, you should ensure everything is well put together and transparent in your application because they will reject it for little issues.

Hiring a patent or trademark attorney will ensure your application is approved. Also, lawyers have a better understanding of the tone that USPTO prefers.

However, if you are applying by yourself, you will need your documented name, address, entity details, and a jpg or pdf file of the logo, where it will be used, and how it will be used for filing for the trademark.

The cost of trademarking a logo is nearly $200 to $400.

4. File Updation

USPTO provides detailed directions to navigate your online application. All you need to do is visit their website and follow the directions. 

After updating your file and applying for information, you can also check the status of your trademark by using TSDR after around 5-7 working days.

After thorough processing and filtration, if your logo is error-free, it will be published, and if no one complains about it, it will be registered. 

Otherwise, an error will appear that you can resolve within the time frame of 6 months.

5 Things To Keep In Mind While You Register A Logo

We have discussed the procedure for registering a logo. Let’s focus on 5 top things you should be mindful of while trademarking a logo.

  1. Logo Can’t Be Generic

USPTO dislikes generic logos. Ensure your logo is unique and related to the product but needs to be more noticeable. There is a wide range of logo designs, so choose the right one.

You can’t put a cow as a logo for a milk company or a bed for a bed and breakfast. Your logo should be unique and exciting, like Apple’s logo for a technology company.

  1. Logo Can’t Be Too Similar

We advised you to search for similar logos and create a logo relatable to that, but that doesn’t mean you can copy everything from that logo.

You can take inspiration, guidelines, and understanding of what type of logo USPTO prefers, but you can’t copy the exact logo.

Your logo can’t create a likelihood of confusion because that can get your application rejected within minutes.

  1. Colors In the Logo

While filling out the application, if you submit your logo in black and white, then later on, you can change the colors of the logo whenever you want. It provides you with the flexibility of change.

But if you submit your logo in particular colors, you must describe why you use them, and you can not change them later.

  1. Strongest Trademarks Are Easy To Register

The strongest trademarks are distinctive and exclusive. Trademarks that quickly identify the good or service are considered the strongest trademarks.

  1. People Outside USA Need An Attorney

Anyone from the USA can easily file for trademarking a logo, but if you are based outside of the USA, then it’s crucial to hire an attorney to file the claim.

However, we suggest hiring an attorney even if you are from the USA because then you can avoid all the research, and it also increases the chances of the application’s acceptance.

Common Law Trademark

Common law trademarks are not registered with the federal government (USPTO); instead, they are established by using the logo.

  1. Benefits Of Common Law Trademark

You can quickly get a common law trademark because there are fewer requirements. It is less expensive. 

Because you don’t have to go ahead and file an application for this, you can obtain it by using your logo, and thus, it is far less time-consuming.

2. Limitations Of Common Law Trademark 

Common law trademark is limited to geographical areas. If you are a small business owner, then common law is far more affordable and preferred.

But if you are planning on expanding nationwide, then it’s recommended that you have a registered logo. Also, common law trademarks are complex and expensive in the long run.

Because you have to prove ownership, validity, and the area of usage.

3. Establishing  A Common Law Trademark

You can establish your common law trademark by using it to mark in commerce. Use your trademark in packaging, advertisement, and labels.

You can use it for secondary meanings by letting people know that this logo belongs to you. You can use it in marketing and advertisements and to promote your goods or services.

2 Main Ways To Register A Logo

There are two ways that you can use for registering a logo.

  1. Standard Character Mark

If you have numbers and letters or a combination of them in your logo design, then you can use standard character marks because it protects the arrangement of letters or numbers, no matter how you display them.

2. Special Form Mark

Suppose your logo has a symbol, color theme, unique font, significant design element, illustration, or particular font, or let’s say. In that case, a combination of them and a distinctive form mark is the right way for you.

Difference Between Registered and Common Law Trademark

The difference between a registered trademark and a common law trademark is:

Registered Trademark Common Law Trademark
1. It refers to the trademark owner having the logo registered properly and this trademark is recorded in a government database.1. If refers to when the brand owner has not registered a trademark but has been using the logo and thus acquired similar rights.
2. The trademark owner possesses the trademark rights.2. The trademark owner has no trademark rights.

Valuable Tools That Will Help You Trademarking A Logo

Here is a list of a handful of tools that can ease your trademarking journey.

My USPTO: It has a personalized homepage and is a straight way to USPTO’s records. It can help search files and perform status functions.

Trademark Search System (TESS): Records of all the active and inactive trademark registrations and applications.

File Forms in Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS): Finds and submits trademark forms and makes payments.

Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR): Access trademark applications and registration files using serial numbers to check the status of an application or a registration.

ID Manual: provides searchable listing and identification of services and goods. These pre-approved applications can help you to write compelling descriptions.

FAQs

Q1: How long does it take to register a trademark?

Ans: It takes around 12 to 18 months to register a trademark.

Q2: How can I check the status of my application?

Ans: You can check the status anytime using Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR).

Q3: How much does it cost to trademark a logo?

Ans: It costs around $200 to $400.

Q4: What is the difference between a registered trademark and an unregistered trademark?

Ans: An unregistered trademark has ™, and a registered trademark has ® sign.

Q5: How will I know if my logo gets registered?

Ans: You will be informed via mail, or you can also check out the USPTO gazette. All registered trademarks are published there.

Q6: What are the common reasons for a rejected logo?

Ans: The most common reasons include a generic logo, a confusing logo, or an offensive logo design. 

Q7: What is the difference between fanciful and arbitrary trademarks?

Ans: Fanciful trademarks are words or symbols that have been created or invented specially to be used as a trademark, while arbitrary trademarks have dictionary meanings but are not related to the brand.

Q8: What is the difference between generic and descriptive trademarks?

Ans: A generic trademark is a phrase or word that has become common for use in specific goods or services, while descriptive trademarks are trademarks that explain the qualities of the good or services.

Q9: What are the weak trademarks, and what are the strong trademarks?

Ans: Weak trademarks include generic and descriptive trademarks, and strong trademarks include fanciful, arbitrary, and suggestive trademarks.

Let’s Elaborate How To Trademark A Design Logo

There are two ways to own a logo design: first, by using it for your brand so you can attain a common law trademark, and second, by registering it on USPTO.

By registering your logo, you get exclusive rights and protection against duplicators and counterfeits. 

By trademarking your logo, you basically own the way your logo design is used in your particular field of business. 

Suppose you are a small business brand owner. In that case, a common law trademark is more reliable for you, whereas if you have expanded your business, then trademarking a logo on USPTO is more suitable for you.

To thrive on your small business brand, consult an expert today.

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David Peters

David Peters is a seasoned professional in the world of graphic design, specializing in the art of logo design. With a remarkable decade of experience at "Vince Logo Design," David has honed his skills and expertise, becoming a prominent figure in the field.

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