Nowadays, art theft doesn’t just happen in intricately planned heists staged at exhibitions and museums. The truth is that designs are being copied and stolen left, right and centre; from the marketing sector to fashion and more.
Unfortunately, logo designs are equally susceptible to this kind of theft. This is why trademarking your logo is essential now more than ever. In this post, we’ll explain what trademarking logos entails, why it’s important and how to go about it. Let’s dig in:
Why Is Trademarking a Logo Important?
The idea of having to protect a logo might seem peculiar to some business owners. I mean, a logo is such a small part of your company’s overall branding. While it might be one tiny piece of the puzzle, it plays a big role.
It’s one of the first things customers see, meaning it determines your impression on them. It influences how your audience perceives your brand just by looking at it. As such, you should do everything possible to protect it through trademarking.
So, what is a trademark? This legal tag or label is designed to shield any intellectual property from infringement. Intellectual property is a fancy way of describing any item that boasts original creation. It could be a song, a scientific experiment, a recipe, a code or, in this case, a brand’s logo.
Trademarking your logo means you have complete control over its use. It gives you the right to sue people for infringement. Infringement happens when an individual attempts to use your logo without permission.
Types of Logo Trademarks
There are different types of trademarks to choose from. I have listed the most popular ones below, starting from the most to least effective:
- Fanciful trademarks comprise a set of words, which are usually made up. For instance, “Adidas” doesn’t exist in the English vocabulary. However, the brand is known worldwide because of its unique logo design.
- Arbitrary trademarks – this entails using a set of words that aren’t related to the brand’s product/service. For instance, Apple, the giant company, operates in the tech and not food industry.
- Suggestive trademarks – these trademarks provide a clue about the company’s nature of business. For instance, Jaguar’s trademark conveys that their cars are as fast as big cats.
The Process of Trademarking a Logo
Now that you know its relevance, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to trademark a logo:
Step 1: Research Existing Logo Trademarks
Do some due diligence before registering your logo’s trademark with the relevant authority. Go through the databases in your country and local region to ensure no other company uses a similar logo design.
The Internet can be remarkably resourceful at this stage. It can help you identify common law logos that would be otherwise hard to spot. Ensure you examine all the names and images you’re thinking of using. This way, your trademark application doesn’t get rejected because of having a logo that’s too similar to another brand’s.
Step 2: Prepare the Application
This is one of the most crucial steps when trademarking your logo. Given how lengthy and sophisticated the process is,you’ll want to ensure that you provide correct details the first time around. The requirements for trademarking a logo vary, but you’ll likely be asked to provide:
- Name and personal information of the person filing for the trademark
- The service or product represented by the logo
- A file containing the final version of the logo, usually in JPG format
- A sample showing how the logo comes across on the product or service
Step 3: Submit the Application
The only thing left is to submit your paperwork to the relevant authority and await approval. One of two things can happen at this stage.
Your trademark could be deemed fit, meaning it receives the green light for publication. Or it could get rejected. If the latter happens, you’ll be notified of the reason for rejection. You can then correct these errors and repeat the application process. If you’ve resolved all the issues, the second application process will go without a hitch.
When Don’t You Need a Trademark?
Part of trademarking a logo is making smart decisions, especially with regards to timing. Here’s the thing: not every business has to trademark their logo.
As stated earlier, it’s a fairly time-consuming procedure, not to mention, expensive. So, if you’re going to embark on this journey, you should be 100% sure! Here are some of the instances when you should hold off on trademarking your logo:
You don’t have everything ready
If you still have second thoughts about your logo’s design, consider hitting pause. Perhaps you rushed the design process because you wanted a logo to keep your startup rolling.
Or, maybe you’re planning to expand your brand, hence, change your logo to reflect this. If you don’t plan to use this logo long-term, don’t waste your funds trademarking it.
It’s not unique
Does your current logo look strikingly similar to that of another brand? If so, it’s not worth trademarking it.
The chances of your application getting rejected are pretty high. It’s better to redesign your logo first. This way, you can minimise the risk of facing legal problems because of “copying” another firm’s trademark.
Who Owns a Trademark?
After examining your brand carefully, you’ve decided to go ahead and register your trademark. But before you do, you’ll want to consider its ownership.
If you designed your brand logo from scratch, then you own the trademark. However, if you outsourced the design process, the trademark belongs to the designer. It’s not until you buy the trademark that it becomes yours. In most cases, there’s a Transfer Contract that both parties sign to verify this.
Once you become the rightful owner, you have complete control. You get to decide where it’s used, how it can be modified and who else can use it.
Registering a trademark for your logo is an important step. It prevents others from copying, stealing and using it maliciously. The process typically entails researching, preparing application documents and filing for registration.