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How Do You Trademark a Logo?

You trademark a logo by clearing it first and filing a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Upon approval, your company can affix a trademark symbol to the logo for protection under intellectual property and trademark law.

Here is a web page that discusses trademarks

Trademark Protection Explained

Trademark protection on a logo is relatively straightforward. However, there are some legal considerations to make beforehand. A trademark will protect your logo when you have the trademark symbol affixed.

You may not have legal rights to trademark your logo, so many applicants perform preliminary and comprehensive trademark searches for clearance. Once the USPTO approves your request, you then have permission to use it.

Below, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions (FAQs) when it comes to understanding trademark protection:

  1. How Long Does a Trademark Last? A trademark can last indefinitely, but the owner must use it or risk losing them at the ten-year renewal mark. However, you could essentially keep renewing your trademark for the duration of your life and beyond.
  2. Can you transfer trademark ownership to another party ? You can transfer your trademark to another party via a trademark assignment agreement. This agreement will explain the terms and conditions of the ownership transfer in exchange for compensation or a percentage of profits.
  3. Are Trademarks Good for Logos? Yes, trademarks are suitable for logos. They protect all company symbols, slogans, and phrases that distinguish you in the market.

This web page also explains how trademark symbols work.

How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Logo?

It can cost up to $750 for a paper trademark filing to the USPTO, with an electronic filing costing as little as $250. State-level agencies vary and typically cost between $50 and several hundred dollars. Additionally, costs associated with trademarking a logo vary by country.

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Who Needs to Trademark a Logo?

Logo owners need to trademark a logo. They typically include businesses, entrepreneurs, social services, non-profits, and more. Many legal and financial benefits are associated with protecting a brand, regardless of the entity type.

Here are some compelling reasons to trademark a logo:

  • Foundation : Serves as the foundation of your brand, alongside your business name. It visually communicates everything about your business through its color(s), font, and design.
  • Identification : Serves as the most effective means of identifying your business, products, or services. Indeed, some logos become so instantly recognizable that consumers subconsciously seek them out rather than the business name.
  • Competitive advantage : It distinguishes you from the competition, which is one of the primary reasons to trademark it.

What is a Trademark Search?

A trademark search helps trademark applicants clear their mark, symbol, logo, or slogan for use. In addition, they uncover information about registered and unregistered that could disrupt the process. There are two kinds of trademark searches, including preliminary and comprehensive.

Below, we’ve explained how they both work in greater detail:

Type 1. Preliminary Trademark Search

Preliminary trademark searches are high-level searches that limit the scope and depth of the process, thereby returning fewer searches. However, they are faster and more affordable than comprehensive searches.

It generally encompasses all existing federal trademark registrations and pending applications on file with the USPTO. A preliminary trademark search generally excludes unreported and unregistered trademark searches.

Due to its limitations, this search type is not a substitute for a comprehensive one. However, you can use them as a cost-effective guide in the initial design, planning, and application phases.

Part 2. Comprehensive Trademark Searches

Comprehensive trademark searches are time-consuming and expensive. They cover most of the exclusions mentioned above and trademarks that are not only identical but also phonetically similar. You can obtain a comprehensive search report from a trademark lawyer.

A comprehensive trademark search has inherent limitations and cannot guarantee your ability to use or register it without committing trademark infringement. However, it is more detailed than a screening search by incorporating more significant resources.

It is critical to remember that the USPTO search is not a substitute for conducting a trademark search. The USPTO searches existing federal trademark registrations and pending applications on file when filing a federal trademark application. However, they will not search for state registrations or common law trademark usage, which could create legal issues down the road.

How to File a Trademark Application

Consider whether you want to submit a full-color or black and white logo when submitting your trademark application. While many businesses register their logo in full color, there are several reasons why this is not a good idea.

If your logo is color trademarked, you cannot change the color without filing a new trademark application or amending an existing trademark application. Therefore, you should always obtain trademark protections for all versions, colors, and iterations of your logo.

Here are the ten steps for filing a trademark application, including at the state level:

  1. Step 1. Perform a preliminary and comprehensive clearance search
  2. Step 2. Submit your initial application via TEAS at uspto.gov.
  3. Step 3. Affix a high-resolution copy of your logo to the application
  4. Step 4. Complete an “Intent to Use” form since this affects your application
  5. Step 5. Pay for all applicable filing fees, which will vary
  6. Step 6. Check with your secretary of state’s (SOS’s) office about state rules
  7. Step 7. Wait for the USPTO’s confirmation that you received the trademark
  8. Step 8. Affix the trademark symbol to your logo as “™” or “TM”
  9. Step 9. Register your trademark with your SOS’s office
  10. Step 10. Monitor your trademark for infringement

Prevent your logo from being used by another company. Your trademark lawyer can help you monitor this type of activity and handle cease-and-desist actions. Remember: if you alter the logo after approval, you will have to file a new application on the latest iteration for IP protection.

Trademark vs. Copyright vs. Patent

There are several choices for protecting your intellectual property, including trademark vs. copyright vs. patent. However, a trademark is generally the best choice for preserving a logo.

Here is an explanation of how each one works by comparison below:

Copyright vs. Patent

Patents protect products or processes with a functional purpose, such as technologies and inventions. Copyrights protect creative works, like art, literature, music, film, and other areas of the humanities. Design patents cover the non-functional appearance of objects, making them similar to copyrights.

Copyrights vs. Trademarks

Copyright protection applies to creative works fixed in a tangible medium. For example, trademarks protect company trade dress and expressions, like logos, that make the company distinctive from the competition. They do not protect individual words, phrases, or titles.

When a logo incorporates artistic elements, the lines between copyright and trademark can blur. Copyright protections may apply to the logo as a creative work. In contrast, trademark protections prevent competitors from misusing the logo.

Patents vs. Trademarks

Patents protect inventions, whereas trademarks distinguish one product or service from competitors. A patent provides better protection as it prohibits others from manufacturing, selling, or using an invention without the owner’s permission. A trademark simply prohibits other parties from marketing similar products in a way that causes consumer confusion.

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