Logos play an important role in any business. Logos create a simple recognizable impression that make you look more professional and easily identifiable. An article on eHow.com regarding the importance of logos states, “logos…can be used easily in all types of marketing materials such as direct mail, newspaper and magazine advertising, television and even on the Internet”. In addition, it’s important to point out, that in a world of social media and online marketing, logos will play an important role. For example, have you ever tried to squeeze your entire business name into a twitter icon? A logo fits nicely. A logo is important for brand awareness, customer reliance, and professionalism.
You’ve created a logo now what?
Protect it. It’s important that you secure the rights to a logo to ensure no one will obtain a similar mark. A similar logo can cause consumer confusion and result in the purchase of an inferior product, and as a result the loss of a customer or client, or a diminished reputation. In addition, it’s important you make sure that you don’t use a mark that is confusingly similar to an established business in your field. If their mark is registered and your infringing, the owner may be entitled to statutory damages that can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Get a comprehensive trademark search and file for trademark registration to ensure you’re protected.
How do I search for similar logos?
First, while brainstorming ideas you need to be aware of the recognizable marks within your industry. You can start with a Google search. However, such a search is not comprehensive and will not provide you information regarding marks that have a federal registration. The United States Patent and Trademark Office provides a search tool to find similar marks using design codes. However, the tool requires you to learn esoteric searching techniques and is not user friendly. Lastly, you can use trademark search services. If you use these services make sure to use a trademark attorney so that the legal implications of the search results are explained in detail. Otherwise, you can be left with a search report listing comparable trademarks with no real legal explanation.
My logo includes my business name and a design. What type of trademark should I file?
First and foremost, you should apply for a standard character mark. A standard character trademark does not include any design aspects of your mark. “I spent a lot of money getting a graphic artist to design this mark, and now I’m not suppose to claim it in my trademark?” That’s right. You should first apply for a trademark for the business name itself. This way you can change your font, logo, background, etcetera, to include whatever design you want. For example, five years after you acquire trademark registration a section 8 declaration is due showing that you are still using your mark. If you submit a specimen that doesn’t match your initial registration your mark will be denied for failure to show continuous use. In other words, if you have changed the color, font, background of the mark, the USPTO will reject your section 8 declaration of continuous use for failure to submit a proper specimen. As a result, it’s important to be as broad as possible when acquiring a trademark registration for your business, specifically, you need to protect the name with no claim to any specific design.
After you file or along with your standard character trademark application you should file to protect the design elements of your mark. Major companies often correctly file trademarks 1. for the name of the business itself and 2. for the logo itself. For example, Nike owns the trademark for “NIKE” standard character mark as well as the nike swoosh as a logo; Twitter owns the standard character mark “TWITTER” as well as the silhouette of a bird logo; Facebook owns the standard character mark “FACEBOOK” as well as the glossy blue “F” logo, plus many others. These examples all represent the proper way to protect a businesses’ trademarks.
1. File for the standard character mark of your business name itself.
2. File a stylized mark to protect your design elements.
If you need assistance acquiring trademark registration use OnlineTrademarkAttorneys.com. Attorneys making the trademark process simple.
Published October 7, 2013 by Brent Sausser.