Steps to Follow To Protect Your Company's Logo
Want to let your clients know about your company’s belief system, culture and quality? Well, the company logo says it all! The unique graphical aspect of the logo, including the color, font, etc. are a testament to the particular brand they signify. This is the reason why most leading business houses hire professionals to design the company logos. They often sign a contract with design firms to create unique logos that express the company's culture and mission.
Unfortunately, a logo can be mimicked, copied, or ‘knocked off’ by competitors. These knock offs usually confuse the customers who cannot tell the difference between the fake and the original until after the purchase. To prevent this, two areas of law have cropped up to protect logos: trademark law and copyright law.
How do you legally protect a logo? Getting started is easy. You can just add the prominent “TM” symbol behind your company’s logo. This identifies the logo as a trademark your company intends to identify as its own. In the United States, no registration of the trademark is required. However, the advantages of registering your trademark with the federal government are numerous. Registration gives you the power to sue the individuals/companies if you feel that they have infringed your rights. The process is relatively simple and requires filing your mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If you are wondering, “what is the best way to protect my logo," continue reading, and if you still have questions, give us a call.
Your first job is to evaluate the logo and other words or symbols that identify your company and the brand. Not all logos can be trademarked. It has to be unique and do more than simply describe your company or what it sells. Remember, if the name or the symbol does not sufficiently identify your company, your logo will not be accepted by the USPTO.
Is it trademarked?
When the decision on which symbols and marks to be used is completed, it is important to find out if any of the marks or symbols have already been registered with the USPTO. To find out if the marks are registered, just search the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). All you need to do is to look through the Design Search Code Manual for the codes that identify the design cues of each element in your logo.
Application for Trademark
You can fill out the trademark application form online by using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) and paying a fee (usually between $200-$350 per registration). This is the most common way of applying for a registered trademark. After submitting your application, you'll receive an email, confirming the receipt of your application and provide you a serial number that is associated with your trademark. A long wait (ranging from three to six months) is inevitable after the submission of the application form. You can, however, monitor the status of your registered trademark by using the USPTO’s trademark application progress monitor.
Will I need an attorney?
Depending on the complexity of your logo, you might need the help of an attorney. Many applications can be filed and completed without the need of an attorney, but if the USPTO issues an Office Action denying your registration, you may need to refile the application and pay an additional fee. Not only will this increase the amount of time necessary to achieve registration, but it may prevent you from adequately protecting your logo in the meantime. In many cases, seeking the help of an attorney will save you time and money in the long run.
Remember, if parts of your logo are already registered, your application will be delayed. Under such circumstances or if an Office Action is issued denying your application, it is always a good idea to seek the aid of an attorney. The US Patent and Trade Office will communicate with your lawyer rather than you in this process. The attorneys at Watson Firm can help. So, instead of wondering, ‘how to protect my business logo’, just get in touch with us today. Call us at 205.545.7278 or fill the form on this page to contact us.