Once you have selected a logo for your business, you will want to make sure that you secure the trademark rights to that logo. Before addressing how to secure those rights, we should define the terms “trademark” and “logo.” You may also want to brush up on your copyright in logo design knowledge.
A trademark is a distinctive word, name, phrase, symbol, design, or other device used by a company or person to distinguish its products or services from the products or services of other companies. Trademarks are basically brands, and you can protect your trademark or brand by securing the associated trademark rights. These rights allow you to prevent others from using a confusingly similar trademark or brand.
A logo is a type of trademark that consists of a design that is generally used by company or person and placed on its products or printed material related to its services. The logo may be a design by itself, a design with letters or words, or a design consisting simply of stylized words or letters. In contrast, some trademarks consist solely of letters or words without any design, but these would not be considered logos.
After selecting a logo for your business, you will want to secure the trademark rights for that logo by trademarking it. Here are step by step instructions for protecting your logo in the United States, noting that protecting your logo in other countries is beyond the scope of this article.
Ideally, you will want to make sure that your logo is available for your adoption and use. That is, you will want to make sure that no one else is already using your logo. To do this, you will want to perform a trademark search. The trademark search will tell you whether someone else has already adopted the identical or a highly similar logo. If someone has already adopted your logo or a highly similar logo and you proceed to use your logo, you may be infringing on their trademark and may get sued for trademark infringement. While you can try to perform your own trademark search either by searching the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s records or using a search company such as Thomson CompuMark, it is recommended to hire a trademark attorney who can not only conduct the search but who can better define the search criteria and who has the legal expertise to analyze the search results.