Trademarking a Logo: 10 Things You Need to Know

You know those little superscript symbols next to brand names and logos—™ and ® ? They ’ re the hallmark and registered hallmark symbols, respectively. And if you have a logo or you ’ re in the process of creating a logo, understanding these tips for trademarking a logo can save you time, money and headaches as you grow your post .
By just having a logo, you have what ’ s known as a common law trademark for your logo. That means that, without doing anything paperwork-wise, you have the exclusive legal right to use and amend that logo as you see fit. But without an formally register trademark, that right international relations and security network ’ thymine arsenic dependable as it could be. here we answer the top questions about trademarking a logo .

Trademark basics

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a legal designation that protects a piece of intellectual property from misdemeanor.

image of unauthorized Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Leopard Walk Up to DragonOne of the aims of trademark and copyright laws is to prevent knock-offs like “Harry Potter and the Leopard Walk Up to Dragon.” Via Trademark and Copyright Law Blog
Let ’ s pause that down .
Intellectual property is any type of original initiation. Almost anything can be a piece of intellectual place : a withdraw, a song, an invention, a unique process, a novel, a movie, an invention, the code you ’ ve developed, a recipe and in some circumstances, an application of a scientific discovery .
If you create something, it ’ s your intellectual property. You have near-total dominance over your intellectual property, which means you get to decide if and when to sell it, who you license its practice to and the circumstances under which the license is granted, so what license entails and what it costs the licensee. You besides control how it can be added onto, like in the form of a sequel .
When person else uses your intellectual property without your consent, it ’ mho known as violation. however, there are a few circumstances under which another party may use your intellectual place without your consent—in the US, these are covered by the Fair Use Doctrine .
Outside these circumstances, violation is illegal and as the owner of the cerebral place, you have the right to take legal action against anybody infringing on your intellectual place. Intellectual property violation is something every designer should have at least a basic sympathize of .
copyright symbolvia Pixabay

How is a trademark different from a copyright?

A copyright does the same thing as a brand. The difference between them is the specific types of cerebral property they protect :

  • A copyright protects artistic endeavors like novels, works of visual art, short stories, characters’ names and fictional worlds, songs, code and other types of creations that don’t explicitly exist for commercial purposes
  • A trademark protects intellectual property that does exist for explicitly commercial purposes, like brand names, logos, taglines and slogans

What does a trademark protect?

A hallmark solidifies your ownership of your intellectual place. By merely creating and using a logo, you mechanically have the exclusive right to use it and take legal action against misdemeanor. But by registering your trademark, that right is strengthened and you gain extra legal protections .
In the United States for model, trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ( USPTO ). other countries have alike agencies and offer exchangeable trademark security through them .
illustration of trademark symbol and guardIllustration by OrangeCrush
Registering a trademark with the USPTO grants you the following rights and protections :

  • The right to take legal action against alleged infringement of the trademark in federal court.
  • The public is notified of your trademark registration.
  • You are legally presumed to own the trademark and hold exclusive rights to use it in relation to the goods and/or services listed in your registration.
  • It paves the way for you to register your trademark in other countries more easily.
  • You may prevent the importation of foreign goods that infringe on your trademark.

orange mascot designFor example, if you grow oranges, you likely won’t get a generic image of an orange trademarked. You’ll need something unique like this orange mascot by Francesca.ibba00.

What can’t it protect?

A hallmark can ’ thymine concession you the single right to anything generic. For example, you can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate name your business “ Juicy Oranges ” and expect to trademark the identify and a logo featuring the name .
A brand besides can ’ t forbid others from using your intellectual property in ways compliant with the Fair Use Doctrine. Generally, Fair Use allows others to use trademark and copyright oeuvre in ways that won ’ metric ton lead to consumer confusion .
We cover these in greater detail in our web log post on the things every graphic designer should know about intellectual place and trademark misdemeanor .

Is a trademark enforceable around the world?

No. Trademarking your logo only grants you hallmark security in the state where you filed for the trademark. Although trademarking your logo in one nation can make it easier to trademark it in another, you need to file for a divide hallmark in every state where you want that legal protection .

Who owns a logo trademark?

When you design your own logo, you do. When you commission a graphic designer to create a logo for you, the trademark is transferred to you once you purchase it from them. normally there ’ randomness a Transfer Agreement that both parties augury .
As the trademark owner, you decide where the logo appears, how the logo is updated or amended and which parties may license it for use in their own materials.

The process of trademarking a logo

Can I trademark my own name?

Yes. however, it needs to be for a business-related purpose .
pastel colored spherical logo for "L. Thompson Style"Logo design by TikaDesign
Let ’ s say your name is Sarah Keller and you create custom-made resin earrings. You can absolutely trademark a business list like Sarah Keller Jewelry or Earrings by Sarah .
But in this example, trademarking your name only protects your intellectual property in the business category you’re working in. If there ’ s another Sarah Keller out there and she decides to trademark her photography business ’ identify, Sarah Keller Photography, she can absolutely do that without worrying about infringing on your copyright .
Think carefully about trademarking your name as your mark name and making it separate of your logo. Though it ’ s an easy direction to create a unique punctuate, you ’ re besides giving your identify to something that exists separate from you—and tied if you leave the company years in the future, that brand will calm be operating under your appoint .
This is what happened to UK manner architect Karen Millen. After playing a samara role in building her retail company to the global brand it is today, she exited in 2004. But because the business is registered in the UK as Karen Millen, she can not legally register a new hallmark in the UK with a substantially similar name. additionally, a court ruled in 2016 she besides can not use her name to brand invest and family goods in the US and China, as this violates the terms of her 2004 agreement .

Does my logo qualify for trademark protection?

If it ’ s potent adequate, it will. If it ’ s not strong adequate, the USPTO ( or your nation ’ randomness trademark office ) will reject it .

What constitutes a strong logo?

In the world of intellectual property, a potent logo or name is one that is signally alone to its creator .
unique wind up toy logoA unique logo by Angela Cuellar
These include made-up names like Microsoft and Google a well as words and symbols not typically associated with the product or service they ’ re attached to, like Apple computers or White Castle hamburgers .
In contrast, a weak logo or diagnose is one that ’ second generic ( like an picture or emoji for exemplar ) or simply describes the product or service. A few hypothetical examples of these include Delicious Ice Cream, Trustworthy Law firm and Gray Brick Daycare Center .

How long does it take to trademark a logo?

normally, trademarking a logo takes between six and nine months from filing to issue. however, it can take up to three years for complex cases .

What does it cost to trademark a logo?

The cost of trademarking a logo varies by country. In the US, trademarking a logo with the USPTO costs between $ 275 and $ 660 plus legal fees. Trademarking a logo with a submit hallmark agency ( which offers like security to registering it at the federal horizontal surface, but only within a specific country ) generally costs between $ 50 and $ 150.

What does the process of trademarking a logo involve?

Before you apply for trademark registration, conduct a search of your country ’ s and state ’ s databases to determine if another company is already using a logo that ’ south besides close to the one you want to use. Searching the internet can help at this stage excessively because it can catch coarse law son you otherwise wouldn ’ thyroxine catch. Make sure you truly inquiry all the names and images you ’ rhenium considering, because if your logo is excessively similar to an existing brand ’ s, your application will be rejected and you ’ ll have to basically restart the process .
once you ’ ve determined your logo international relations and security network ’ t besides similar to another brand ’ s, you can go ahead and file a hallmark application with your country ’ randomness brand position, for example the USPTO in the US. It then goes into USPTO review .
At this stage, one of two things can happen. The trademark office can either determine your logo is qualified to trademark the direction it is and issue it for publication ( which leads to registration ) or they could find one or more issues with it and take agency carry through. When this happens, you are notified of why the logo was rejected and given six months to respond. At this stage, if all issues are corrected, the trademark function may approve the logo and publish it. Or, if the issues are not fully resolved, they may take office action again, and you again have six months to respond .
After a irregular agency natural process, the logo may be published or rejected, depending on whether it meets the brand office ’ s criteria for trademarking a logo .

Do I need to work with a lawyer to trademark my logo?

round logo of a fistLogo design by TRYBYK ART STUDIO
No. You can absolutely DIY the process of trademarking your logo .
But working with a lawyer can be beneficial. An know intellectual property lawyer can file your brand application for you and handle all the paperwork on your behalf. By having them do this, you can save yourself fourth dimension, energy and the risk of potentially messing up—since your lawyer ’ s done this fortune of times before, they can make it as smooth and easy as possible .

What if my trademark application is rejected?

There are a number of reasons why your brand application might be rejected. These include :

  • It’s a generic logo.
  • There’s a high likelihood consumers will confuse your logo with an existing trademarked logo.
  • Your logo is merely ornamentation, rather than a legitimate identifying mark.
  • Your logo contains offensive verbiage or imagery (though there are exceptions where this type of material can be trademarked).
  • The logo’s imagery or text is geographically misdescriptive, which means it inaccurately implies your company or product is based in or sourced from a specific location.

If you feel the rejection was in error, you can file an attract with the hallmark function to have the application reviewed again and ideally, accepted. If it turns out your logo doesn ’ t modify for trademarking, you ’ ll want to go back to the drawing board and create a new logo before trying again.

Owning and protecting trademarks

What are the strongest trademarks? (and why?)

As we mentioned above, the strongest trademarks are ones that are undeniably unique to their brands. This can be because they ’ re :

  • Made-up words or images.
  • Arbitrary in relation to their product or service (think Apple computers).

When you don ’ t have a registered hallmark, asserting your possession of your brand appoint or logo can be more difficult if you have a weak trademark .
Olive oil logo design by olimpioRestaurant logo design by Veerle.

Why wouldn’t I want to trademark my logo?

When you first base create your logo, the next thing you need to do is trademark it, right ?
not inevitably .
The trademarking march can be fairly drawn-out and expensive, so you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to be having to do it repeatedly. This means there are a few circumstances under which it ’ sulfur not advisable to trademark your logo… at least not correct away. These circumstances include the follow three points :

1. Things aren’t set in stone

You ’ re not wholly committed to the logo yet—or you know you ’ ll be changing it within a short time period of time. This could be because you made a band aid low-effort logo with a logo godhead just to have something in place when your commercial enterprise launched and you plan on getting a master logo created at a later date when you ’ ve got some more money to spend .
possibly you plan on expanding in the coming years and changing your logo to reflect that. In any case, a logo has to be systematically in use to be protected by its brand, so if your logo is just a “ for nowadays ” logo, it ’ s not worth the time or money to trademark it .

2. It’s not unique

If your logo is fairly similar to another logo in use in your nation, tread carefully. It could be exchangeable to a adult, national post, meaning there ’ s a luck people will get confuse, change your logo. It ’ s not worth the confusion, looking like a copycat or potentially running into legal trouble oneself with the other mark .
But let ’ s say that other company is based in Oregon, and you ’ re in New Jersey, and you ’ re both modest businesses that chiefly serve your local markets. In that lawsuit, you probably won ’ triiodothyronine campaign into the issue of people confusing you for the other company… but you still can ’ thymine register your logo with the USPTO. In this case, registering your trademark with your state should provide adequate auspices .

3. Your business could be temporary

What about if you aren ’ thymine sure your commercial enterprise will last ? Hey, it ’ s a valid concern. possibly it ’ s merely a side hustle for you and you ’ re not convinced you ’ ll privation to do it forever. Or it ’ randomness just a makeshift between broad clock time positions. equitable like it doesn ’ t make sense to register a logo that ’ second going to change in the near future, it ’ s most probable not worth it to register a logo for a business you ’ ra not sure will final .

How do I use those trademark symbols?

There ’ s two components to this doubt : when is the appropriate clock to use each symbol, and how do you literally insert it into your textbook .
registered trademark symbolvia Wikipediatrademark symbolvia Wikipedia ™ is used for trademarks that aren ’ metric ton registered with the brand function. This includes trademarks that are presently pending. ® is for trademarks that are registered with the brand office .
And here ’ s how you insert the symbols into text :

  • When typing on a Windows computer, make sure the [Num Lock] key is engaged, then use the keyboard combination of pressing the [Alt] key followed by the keypad number sequence of “0153” to insert the TM symbol or “0174” to insert the registered trademark symbol.
  • On Apple operating systems, hold the [Option] and “2” keys for the trademark sign, and hold [Option] and “R” at the same time to produce the registered trademark symbol.
  • Insert either symbol by selecting it from the character map available in your software program.

What can I do if I find my trademark being violated?

Lawyer up. Depending on the specifics of the position, you could potentially be entitled to recover damages for the violation. Although working with a lawyer can be expensive, it doesn ’ t necessarily have to be. You can work with a pro bono lawyer or a lawyer providing low-cost services to inventors and inauguration businesses, as discussed in this mail by the USPTO .
Apple Corps and Apple Inc logos side by sidevia Apple Corps and Apple
normally, the beginning step in resolving an incident of trademark misdemeanor is issuing a cease and abstain letter. This is a letter from your lawyer to the party infringing on your trademark asking them to stop .
If this doesn ’ thyroxine get them to stop, you might need to file a lawsuit to have the court decree them to stop. This doesn ’ metric ton necessarily mean the court will rule in your favor—if the court deems your similar logos are not causing confusion, it may rule you ’ re both permitted to use the logo. This is what happened when Apple Corps and Apple, Inc went to woo in 2006 over their like names .
But how do you know if your trademark is being infringed ? Read our article on how to check if your design has been copied, where we explain the tools and strategies you can use to find out if your trademark design is being used without your consent .

Trademarking a logo protects your unique brand

As a growing post, it ’ s in your best matter to to be proactive about trademarking your alone brand assets. But before you can file for a trademark, you need to have a alone logo to trademark ! A singular logo is more likely to be approved than a generic one, indeed if you don ’ triiodothyronine already have one, work with an have logo interior designer to create the perfect logo for your brand .

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This article was originally written by Melissa Jenkins and published in 2016. It has been updated with new examples and information .

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