When deciding to protect your logo or design it can be somewhat confusing trying to decide how to protect it. After all, your logo is fundamentally the face of your product line or your solutions so it is reasonable that you’d want to do the right thing when it comes to ensuring that you have exclusive rights to it.
The question is if you copyright your logo or trademark your logo? The answer may be both.
What does this mean?
Each logo or design will vary from the next in regard to being qualified for copyright protection, of course, but the key to understanding is learning what is meant by “sufficient authorship.” Logos or designs that fall into any one of the two categories are not eligible for copyright protection:
• “familiar symbols or designs,” e.g. the peace sign, a single arrow, a Latin cross, etc..
• “mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering or coloring,” e.g. text in Times New Roman font, Text Using Just Sentence instance, text in purple
An even easier way to consider is to ask yourself one question about your logo – was there any creativity involved in any respect in designing the logo? If you are using a symbol you found in Microsoft Word or in a clip art program, then no. If you are using a symbol you or someone else designed for you that have a level of creativity and/or uniqueness of some form or fashion, then yes.
Even if your logo does qualify for copyright protection, do not assume it is just like trademark protection. Copyrights protect the picture itself whereas the signature protects the image as it is used within the market.
To protect your emblem IN CONNECTION with your product line and/or services, a trademark is the way to go. The aim of having a logo, be it for a title, logo or slogan, is to get exclusive rights to the mark within your specific industry. This guarantees that there will not be customer confusion when it comes to your own goods/services and another within your business.
Filing a trademark for a symbol is similar to filing a trademark for a title. Comprehensive research is likely needed to ensure that the same or similar design is not already filed. I know what you are thinking – I know my emblem is unique OR I paid for my logo to be designed so I know no one else has it – we hear that a lot. The one thing to always remember about trademarks is the mark does not have to be accurate to another. If there’s a chance for customer confusion, it can be an issue.
Shannon Moore is the General Manager for TradeMark Express. Since 1992, TradeMark Express has fulfilled the needs of their customers with comprehensive research, application preparation, attorney referrals and trademark consultation. For additional details, please visit us on the web in TradeMark Express or telephone Shannon directly at 800.340.2010.