Everything You Need to Know About Trademarking Your Logo
You’re a proud business owner — maybe the first in your family, or perhaps you’re continuing the family’s entrepreneurial tradition. So, you get a logo designed to serve as your company’s face. Your next step might be to go through the trademark registration process for your logo.
“Might be” are the operative words here.
Trademarks make it easier for consumers to recognize companies’ brands (think McD’s unmistakable golden arches or Nike’s famous swoosh). But is it necessary to officially trademark your business logo? And what is the trademark registration process even?
We’ve compiled a guide for trademarking logos so that you can find out if this step is right for your business.
Let’s jump in!
Trademark: What is It?
Trademarks are any logos, images, slogans, or words — or a combination of these — used to tie products to the manufacturers of these goods. A trademark must be distinctive.
Why Should I Trademark my Logo?
A trademark safeguards your company’s brand identity. For instance, your logo may feature two red stripes in it.
If another company uses two similar red stripes in its logo as well, people might buy the other company’s products thinking they are your products.
This is bad for a couple of reasons. First, you lose sales that should’ve been yours. Second, your customers’ confidence in you will wane if the other company’s products are not as high in quality as yours are.
Fortunately, if you have a trademark for your logo and it is infringed upon in this way, you have grounds to file a civil claim against the offending company. In a successfully fought case, the other company will legally have to stop using your trademark.
According to U.S. law, companies’ logos are automatically trademarked once the companies start to advertise their products with these logos.
What does this mean for you? It means you technically don’t need to go through the hassle of trademarking your business logo with the country’s trademark office. But you still may want to for a few reasons.
First, when you register your trademark, you are viewed as the trademark’s owner nationwide. Second, you can file an infringement civil suit in federal court rather than in state court.
With a registered trademark, you’re also qualified to obtain trademark protection overseas. In addition, you can request that the U.S. border protection agents confiscate infringing or counterfeit imported goods.
In other words, trademark registration gives you a lot more power and protection. So, it’s generally recommended.
Is an Attorney’s Help Necessary during the Trademark Registration Process?
You don’t need a lawyer to complete the trademark registration process. But an attorney might end up saving you from expensive legal issues down the road.
How? An attorney can perform for you a thorough search of common law trademarks that are unregistered, federal registrations and state registrations before you send in your trademark application.
A comprehensive search is critical because another trademark owner might have protected rights for a trademark similar to your logo but not registered at the federal level. You don’t want to become a defendant in a trademark infringement suit.
Plus, an attorney can assist you in describing your company’s services and products in the most effective way possible on your application. Your responses may have an impact on your trademark-related rights.
What’s the Cost, and What’s Your Wait Time?
If you’re interested in going through the trademark registration process, set aside between $225 and $400 per category of services or goods. This means if your businesses are in several categories, your application fees will add up rapidly.
And that’s on top of what your attorney charges for his or her services, which may be a few hundred dollars or more.
Also, you won’t get your trademark registered overnight. Try over a year to a year and a half. Fortunately, you can track your application’s process with the federal trademark office.
Wow! Is it Really Necessary?
At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “Wow, do I want to go through all of this?”
We understand. As a business owner, it’s just another thing you’d had to add to your already-full plate.
As an alternative to going through the federal trademark office, consider filing with your particular state’s business trademark office instead. It’s a cheaper process. And it might be enough if you’re planning to operate your business only in your state.
Still, you may feel more comfortable with making your trademark protection official at the national level even if you are local company. After all, this will place your company’s logo in a database that other aspiring business owners can search.
It ultimately decreases the chance that somebody will use a logo similar to yours.
Also, even if you’re a local shop, maybe you plan to expand to a nearby state in the next few years? In addition, if you have an online company that focuses on interstate commerce, a trademark registered with your state alone won’t help you much.
Other Factors to Consider
Whether you plan to operate just within state lines or around the country certainly dictates how you go about the trademark registration process. But a few other factors are important to consider as well.
First, are you a startup company? If so, it might be wiser to see how well your business does before you put in the money and time necessary to trademark your company logo.
Even if your business still exists in a year’s time, you may find that your initial logo does not adequately reflect your business and thus needs to be altered.
Second, consider what could happen to your business if you do not register your trademark. Can you afford for another company to infringe upon your logo?
Honestly look at the benefits and disadvantages of trademarking your business logo, and then, accept the consequences of your choice — the good, the bad and the ugly.
How We Can Help
We offer top-of-the-line logo design services, giving you a design that will capture your potential customers’ hearts.
Contact us to find out more about how we can help your company to stand out for all of the right reasons through our customized logo design services.