Clients often ask how to trademark a logo and how a logo trademark is different from other types of trademark registration. In this trademark law interview, Internet Law and Trademark Attorney Enrico Schaefer talks about the importance of having a solid logo design and incorporate it into your brand protection. Trademark registration is always important, but registering your logo as a trademark is too often overlooked by small business and large business interests alike.
“Why should I trademark my logo?” Quick Tips:
- Your logo design can be an important identifier with consumers. A consumer seeing your stylized design understands that they are doing business with your company under your quality standards. On the Internet, and because of the ease of “cut and paste” on the World Wide Web, stylized design protection (“logo trademark protection”) has become increasingly important.
- There are two important questions when it comes to trademark registration of your logo. “Why should I register a logo as a trademark?” and “How to trademark a logo?”
- An experienced trademark and internet law attorney can not only help you register your logo as a trademark with the USPTO, but understand how to monitor the Internet for potential infringement.
Welcome to Trademark Law Radio. My name is Internet Law Attorney Enrico Schaefer. Today, we’re talking about not only why to trademark your logo, but how to trademark your logo. A logo is a stylized design that is distinct from the words themselves. Trademark registration is always important when it comes to protecting your brand on the Internet and World Wide Web. If you do not register a trademark with the USPTO, you lose your leverage to really fight off people who may be infringing your trademark. When you go to send a cease and desist trademark infringement letter, you need that trademark registration in order to compel the other side to comply with your request. So, what is a trademark logo or a stylized or special form design trademark?
You could trademark several different types of words and phrases, but what you want to do is think about the words themselves, the text of the words, as a word mark. You also want to think about the stylized design, the color, the font style and the particular images that you may use as part of your logo. That is a logo trademark. Additionally, you can protect the stylized design of your logo (i.e. the Nike Swoosh), the color and design and font style of the word, for instance, Microsoft. These types of things need to be protected. And here’s why.
Many times, people go to the Internet in order to create their logo. Oftentimes, they’ll either use a service or literally copy another design that they think looks great. With that being said, if you don’t have a trademark registration for your logo, you’re going to be at a disadvantage if you try to stop that infringement of design contest.
Trademark registration of your logo is the next step, and sometimes the first step, but more often the second step in your online trademark and brand protection program. So, let’s talk a little bit about design.
The style of the lettering can be very important as a brand identifier, so the one thing that you can register as a mark is the style of the lettering, and this includes, potentially, if it’s important to your mark, the colors that you use as part of the logo design. You will need to select a stylized design or special form indicator when you go through the trademark registration process, and decide whether or not to claim color as part of your trademark. Sometimes, oftentimes, color is not important and you want to register, essentially, the black and white version of your logo and preclude any mimicking or imitation or infringement of the overall look without color. But the drawing that you’re going to need to submit to the USPTO, however, is going to have to be an exact replication of your logo and design as used in commerce. This is really important.
Number one, you need to understand that you shouldn’t be registering your logo as a trademark unless, in fact, you’ve decided that this is the stylized design that you’re going to be going for in the near and long term. If you’re going to be changing your design, then you have to decide whether or not you want some interim protection or whether or not to wait until the new design comes out in order to get that registered.
The first thing that you’re going to do before trademark registration of your logo is perform a search. You’re also going to want to hire an attorney to do this trademark availability search to make sure that your proposed design, or the design you’re currently using for your logo, isn’t already infringing someone else’s mark. So, you want to do just as you would with a word trademark, you need to do a trademark availability search and get an opinion letter from a qualified trademark registration attorney who can tell you whether or not there might be any problems with going through the registration process for your logo. Then, if you’re already using this logo, you’re going to want to file an actual use trademark registration for your logo. If it’s a design that you plan on implementing in the future, you can file for trademark registration on an “intent to use” basis. In which case, you’re putting a placeholder down stating that you haven’t used this logo in commerce yet, this stylized design, but we plan to use it in the future, and we’re claiming it as our own and precluding anyone else from imitating it moving forward.
So, those are the basics on not only how to register, as a trademark, your logo, but also why you want to register your logo as a trademark with the USPTO. Online brand protection is important. The Internet and World Wide Web have made trademark infringement as easy as “cut and paste.” If you do not protect your trademark brand and your stylized designs and logos as registered trademarks, you’re leaving yourself open to infringement, and you’re really going to make it hard for your trademark attorney to do anything about it when you realize that someone else has copied what you’ve already done and your consumers are being confused as to the source and origin, or your consumers are being diverted to a competitor because they’re using a similar logo or design for their trademark. Remember, under trademark law, the first to use the trademark in commerce or file an intent to use application, wins, so it’s very important to act fast with all your trademark registrations.
This is Internet Law Attorney and Trademark Registration Attorney Enrico Schaefer signing off. We’ll see you next time.
You’ve been listening to Trademark Law Radio. Whether you are facing a trademark infringement, licensing, monitoring or trademark registration issue, we have a trademark attorney ready to answer your questions.