How to Trademark a Logo in the USA?(2023)
- What is a Logo?
- How Do I Know If my Logo is Eligible for a Trademark?
- What are the Different Types of Logos?
- Is a Logo eligible for both Trademark and Copyright registration?
- How can an applicant Trademark a Logo in the USA?
- How to Trademark a Logo in the USA with USPTO?
- Monitoring after the issuance of trademark
- What are the Benefits of Registering a Logo with USPTO?
- What happens if a Trademark application is rejected?
In this age of competition and fast growth, it is imperative to protect ideas, models of work, etc. Ideas, creativity, and uniqueness are valuable assets, and the legal system has identified them as intellectual property. Intellectual property is protected by law as tangible property. Intellectual property includes various categories like copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets.
A logo is one of the millions of forms of intellectual property. It is a type of IP where trademarks and copyrights overlap. Let’s dive deep into what a logo means, how to trademark a logo in the USA, and how it solidifies the ownership over the particular invention.
What is a Logo?
A logo is composed of images, words, designs, and symbols. It conveys the message of the brand to its customers. A logo identifies a brand under which it has a registered name. Logo falls under the general category of trademarks in intellectual property.
How Do I Know If my Logo is Eligible for a Trademark?
A logo builds recognition and the identity of a business. Logos puts the impact of messaging, originality, and uniqueness on others. A logo helps the brand stand out from the competition. Logos are used in brand banners, letterheads, products, websites, and social media, to carry a powerful message of the brand in just a little picture or design.
To determine whether a logo is eligible for a trademark in the USA, the applicant should conduct rigorous research in USPTO, search engines and government registers.
What are the Different Types of Logos?
There are 4 types of logos:
Wordmark: It is a well-designed logo in unique font and style, for instance, coca-cola and Facebook.
Lettermark: It is similar to the wordmark. They use only a company’s initials in logos like hp, HMV, P&G, etc.
Emblem: An emblem combines messages, slogans, geographical locations, and other items, such as logos from universities and government departments.
Brandmark: This unique symbol depicts brand identities such as Apple, Mcdonald’s golden M, and Starbucks Mermaid.
The applicant first has to choose the logo they want for their goods and services.
Is a Logo eligible for both Trademark and Copyright registration?
A Logo is eligible for both trademark and copyright registration. Therefore, it becomes imperative to make a reasoned choice and understand both registration forms.
Copyright is mainly used to protect creative works, including computer programs, books, artwork, music, etc. It is mainly used for ‘tangible mediums’, meaning it is important for consumers to hear, see, or use the copyrighted product. On the other hand, a trademark can be used to register a symbol, word, or unique phrase capable of representing the brand and the company.
When it comes to a Logo, copyright protects the original design of the logo, meaning the logo is protected from any unauthorized copy of its design. On the other hand, Trademark can protect the logo from competitor use.
Usually, when the work is produced in a tangible medium, the copyright is automatically obtained by the user. However, registration adds benefits to the process. Therefore, it becomes important to ensure that copyright is retained by the business in all its written agreements. The addition of trademark registration adds value to the intellectual property of the business and works wonders for its brand image.
How can an applicant Trademark a Logo in the USA?
An applicant can trademark a logo in the USA in common law and federal jurisdiction.
To trademark a logo in the USA in common law jurisdiction, an applicant must use the logo for their goods or services and acquire the identity of their business. Whenever there is a dispute or infringement, they must prove that their logo is part of their business reputation. A logo held under common law is not subject to any rights. It covers a specific geographical area. Hence, an applicant cannot effectively protect their logo with this method.
To register in federal law jurisdiction, an applicant must follow the criteria given in USPTO to acquire exclusive rights over their logo. Registering their Logo with USPTO protects it throughout the USA. It is a robust method of enforcing and securing their rights.
How to Trademark a Logo in the USA with USPTO?
To trademark a logo in the USA with USPTO, an applicant must first understand that a logo is part of trademark rights and can be registered with the USPTO under the trademark category.
The steps to trademark a logo in the USA are as follows:
- Go to USTPO.gov to search in the database to see if there is a registered logo like yours. Your application will not be accepted if there are already registered logos that are similar or confusingly similar to yours.
- Click on apply for trademark registration and log into TEAS and TEASi.
- Be sure to have the logo file ready and register in the proper description category.
- Logos are of two kinds: Standard Logo and Special form logo: In the Standard Logo, all you need to specify is the type of text, the color, and a few other details. A special form logo requires you to give a comprehensive font, color, format, and details of designs, images, and signatures. Your file should be in jpeg style and less than 1000 kb.
- Fill your application in along with a drawing of the mark and specimen of the mark separately.
- Register your logo in the proper ID of goods and services on which you will use the logo.
- Following that, an examining attorney reviews your application to ensure that it meets all legal requirements.
- Ensure that you check the status of your application regularly.
- Upon approval for publication by the attorney, you will have to wait for public responses and objections to your logo for a few weeks.
- When your logo is certified, you will receive a registration certificate for the fee of $25.
- The logo has to be used in commerce or services to remain alive, and it needs to be renewed every five years.
- The application fee for the logo registration depends upon which option you choose: TEAS plus requires you to pay $250 per class of goods and services, and TEASi standard requires you to pay $ 350 per class of goods and services.
- You can apply on the following basis: Either use in commerce and Intent to use.
- Use in commerce is when your logo is already in use, and you want to register it.
- Intent to use is when you want to register your logo before starting your business.
- Depending upon your application’s nature and specification, it may take 6 to 9 months to get your trademark certificate.
Monitoring after the issuance of trademark
Obtaining a trademark from USPTO doesn’t mean that work has been completed. To ensure that the trademark is not misused by anyone, it is important to do a Trademark Watch. This is a continuous and intensive ongoing work which requires the specialization of specialized attorneys and companies. The main role of these specialized individuals is to constantly check the status of the trademark and ensure that there is no unauthorized use of the trademark or any application for the registration of a similar trademark. In case such a situation arises, these specialists immediately send a cease and desist letter to the concerned individual and USPTO.
LegaMart is capable of providing valuable assistance for the Trademark application process and the Trademark Watch required for a registered trademark.
What are the Benefits of Registering a Logo with USPTO?
The following are some benefits of registering a logo with USPTO:
- You can initiate a trademark infringement lawsuit.
- You will officially be declared the logo owner in the USPTO database. The public will therefore be made aware of your trademark rights.
- Further, if you want to register your trademark internationally with a single application, you can file an application with WIPO under Madrid Convention.
- You can stop the importation of goods similar to your business.
What happens if a Trademark application is rejected?
A Trademark application is capable of being rejected for several reasons. Some of the common reasons include:
- The logo is generic.
- High likelihood of the logo getting confused with an already existing logo trademark.
- There is no legitimate identifying mark, and the logo is only used as an ornamentation.
- Logo is inclusive of offensive verbiage or imagery.
- The text or imagery of the logo is geographically misdescriptive, which means that the logo falsely implies that your company and its products are sourced from a specific location.
In case you are not satisfied with the reasoning provided for rejection, it is possible to file an appeal with the trademark office for review of the trademark application. Most often than not, the review application is accepted.
Registering your intellectual property builds a notable exclusive reputation and relation with your property rights. It guarantees similar rights as would be assigned to you in tangible property. The intellectual property registration ensures its security and exclusivity by preventing infringement of any intellectual property rights.
An exclusive brand identity eliminates the chance of your business’s intellectual property infringement. You can file a suit in case your rights are violated. The logo is one of the ways by which you put down the message of exclusivity on your products or services. Trademarking your logo protects your business interests very well.
It is easy to trademark a logo in the USA. You are safe from infringement issues and counterfeit products or services. When you trademark a logo in the USA, you are assured full federal protection of your rights, as any copyright violation will be handled vigorously by the USPTO. USPTO is the final authority to deal with your intellectual property rights across all commercial uses.