How to Copyright a Logo and Protect Your Brand
There are 28 million small businesses in the United States and a little over 18,000 big companies.
That’s a lot of logos that could potentially copy one another.
But now that your brand is off the ground, you may want to know how to copyright a logo to protect your business. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of copyrighting, and discuss the difference between copyrights and trademarks.
Read on for more.
Trademark vs. Copyrights
You’ve probably heard of both trademarks and copyrights. You might wonder which one you need to register for in order to protect your business.
A copyright carries the (C) symbol. Its sole purpose is to protect the author from having his or her work stolen. You own the copyright to anything you create from the outset. Say you draw a really cool picture. You already have the copyright and can write (C) Your Name under the picture.
Copyrights essentially protect the expression of an idea, but not the idea itself.
For example, if you write a story about a woman who was transported to a magical realm and learned she was the queen of this realm, the idea itself is not copyright. However, the characters you create within it, the words you use to express it, etc. are all copyright and you are the owner.
This is why copyrighting your logo becomes a bit complicated. Many logos do not have enough uniqueness attributed to them to have a copyright. This is why many logos are, instead, trademarked.
A trademark protects all aspects of your work and what identifies your business as distinct on the marketplace. It can protect everything in your logo from the colors to the name to the drawing itself. This is denoted with an (R) symbol, which means registered trademark.
However, you must register your trademark in order to use the symbol.
Although artists immediately hold a copyright over the work, you’ll need to register it anyway to ensure you don’t have any further issues.
If someone else creates a logo for you, they hold the copyright to the logo because they created it. In order to transfer it to you, they need to have a contract in writing stating that they have transferred ownership. Remember this when hiring outside designers to create logos for your business.
How to Copyright a Logo
If you intend to use your logo for business, you should both trademark and copyright it to prevent infringement.
You do this by going here and filling out the form from the United States Copyright Office.
Then, you will pay the registration fee. The Copyright Office requires you to send in one copy of your logo if it has not yet been published, or two if it has been.
You will receive a letter in the mail to let you know if your copyright was approved or not. The copyright of your work goes into effect the moment you register it, not when you get the letter.
Registering a Trademark: Looking for Duplicate Trademarks
It is actually a good idea to do this even before you create a logo. The USPTO will only search for similar logos once you’ve submitted your application. If they find something, you might have to go back to square one.
Search for similar trademarks in their database.
Once you’re satisfied your logo is original, fill out a trademark application from the USPTO. You will have to describe the logo, discuss how you came up with it and what it represents for the company and customers.
You can do this online with the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). You will be asked to choose between TEAS Plus, TEAS regular and TEAS reduced. For those who choose “intent-to-use,” you will also have to pay an additional $50 fee.
A lawyer will look over your application and decide if it meets the standard for being a trademark. If it does, you will have your trademark approved. You won’t hear back from anyone, instead, you’ll have to continue to check the status of your trademark yourself. Typically, this takes three to four months to complete.
Should I Copyright and Trademark My Logo?
If your company is relatively small and only operates in one state or city, there isn’t much of a need to register your design. This is because your business is known to be local, and it won’t really enter the global market.
However, if you’re planning to take your business to other states, or even trading internationally, you’ll likely want to set up a copyright registration and trademark. This is so you don’t have customers confusing you for other stores and services.
If someone does use your logo or trademark, you can hire an attorney to help you fight it and sue the individual or company. This can be costly, but it is important that you protect your logo.
Once you’ve trademarked your logo, you can also set up a “trademark watch” with other businesses.
Wrapping It Up
Learning how to copyright a logo is relatively simple. The most difficult part will be coming up with an amazing logo that fits your brand and is totally unique to you. But, having a logo is an incredibly important part of starting up a business, as it adds an air of professionalism and gives your customers the ability to recognize your brand instantly.
For more quality information on logo design and use, visit our blog.