DO I NEED TO TRADEMARK MY LOGO?
Often times we get asked, do I need to trademark my logo? Maybe you are wondering the same thing!
First off, it might be good to define what a trademark actually is. According to the United States Trademark and Patents Office, a trademark is “ a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.” Therefore, a logo falls into this category. While it is not necessary for a company or proprietor to trademark a logo there are some advantages and disadvantages to consider.
1. Public notice
One of the great ways to get your message across to the public is to be serious about your business. Registering a trademark does just that, it shows ownership. When many customers see that a logo is trademarked, it can sometimes elevate your business in their mind based upon professionalism.
2. Ability to defend your company’s logo through legal action
While you do have rights to defend your company’s logo based upon the fact that you own the logo and it’s original; if a logo is trademarked or copyrighted (copyright is a law that gives you ownership over the things you create) you gain more legal action. After the death of Steve Jobs, a Hong Kong design student created a logo using the silhouette of Jobs incorporated into the bite of the Apple logo. What the student didn’t know was that an almost identical one had already been previously created by another graphic designer. The student’s logo instantly took off on the Internet and the original designer, Chris Thornley soon found out. Another lesser-known designer also came forth claiming the logo as his also. While nothing was taken to court, if one of the designers had copyrighted the logo, they could’ve defended it as their own more effectively.
3. Prevention of infringing foreign goods.
We’ve all seen them, fake purses, watches, makeup, clothing, the whole works. For me, it was in the Big Apple that I got a first-hand look into this world. While walking to Times Square I was approached by several men saying “Gucci, Coach, Prada.” If any attention was given to these men then they would unravel a blanket full of knockoff purses! Luckily for companies such as Coach, their logos are trademarked which allows the government to prevent and take actions against companies/people trying to sell black market items. It’s their protection!
1. Cost and Time
The largest disadvantage is the fact that trademarking a logo can be expensive and can take a lot of time and energy. You must also pay renewal fees every 10 years.
When trademarking a logo you must use the logo in some sort of fashion within a certain amount of time and it must be used continuously otherwise the protection that you get with a trademarked logo becomes void. This makes trademarking a logo that will be used for a short time almost impossible.
If the design or even the colors of the logo change slightly, it’s necessary to obtain a new trademark registration. This can make the process of updating a logo very painful.