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How to Trademark a Logo

Sonia Nair
If you want to protect your business logo from infringements, you must register it as a trademark. Here's some information about the procedure.
Of late, terms like copyright and trademark have been used more commonly. Most of us identify the golden 'M' logo on the products of McDonald's, and know that it is the registered trademark of the fast food giant. Likewise, names like Coke and Coca-Cola are also trademarks.
You know that there are various brands of soft drinks in the market, and each brand is recognized with its distinctive logo and design. Logos have emerged as an integral part of business, as products with logos imprinted are considered authentic.
Unique and innovative logos play an important role in promotional campaigns and advertising of the product. Logos are often used for online promotion of products, on business gifts, banners, and brochures.

What are Trademarks?

A trademark can be defined as a distinct name, sign, or any type of indicator (name, logo, slogan, word, symbol, design, or a combination of all); that is used by an individual, legal entity, or business organization; to distinguish and identify their goods or services from that of others.
In other words, trademarks on products denote their source of origin, and helps the customers in identifying a product. Apart from the purpose of identification; as per law, trademark is a type of intellectual property, and its exclusive rights can be established through its actual use in the market, or by registering it with concerned authorities.
While in some regions, commercial use of a trademark is sufficient to establish the rights associated with it, registration is necessary in others.

Trademarks and Registered Trademarks

Generally, two symbols are used to denote a trademark. One is '™', which represents a trademark symbol and the other is '®', which is used to denote a registered trademark. These symbols are displayed immediately after the trademark in a superscript style.
If the product carries the symbol '™', then the trademark may never be registered or may be in the process of registration. If the symbol is '®', then, it denotes a trademark that is registered with the concerned authorities. In the U.S., the concerned authority is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or PTO).
As mentioned earlier, the proprietary rights of the trademark can be established with its commercial use or by registration. However, registered trademarks enjoy a higher level of legal protection, as compared to non-registered ones, in case of infringement.

Tips for Trademarking a Logo

Trademarking a logo is highly important, as most of the companies spend a lot of time and money in developing an appropriate logo to represent their corporate brand. Protection of the logo can be done by a process called trademarking, which refers to the registration of the logo with the concerned authority.
  • First of all, you have to make sure that your logo is not similar to an existing one. This can be done by searching the database at the USPTO website. You may also search the existing Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL).
  • If the logo is already trademarked by someone else, then there is no point in proceeding with the application for trademark registration. If you skip this step and file the application directly; then, you will lose the application fees, in case your logo is found to be similar to an existing trademarked one.
  • If there is no existing trademarked logo similar to yours, then, you can proceed with your application.
  • You may either hand deliver a written application or mail it. You may also file an online application for trademarking a logo. The complete name and address of the applicant is required, along with a list of goods and services, you intend to include in the trademark.
  • If the logo is already in use, you must furnish evidence to prove the date, from which you started using it. In such cases, a different application form has to be filled.
  • The applicant has to furnish a clear drawing of the logo to be trademarked, and its specimen. He/she has to pay the trademark fee too.
  • Once you file the application, it will take a few months for the authorities to verify and grant registration for your logo.
If you have any doubt regarding the process of trademarking a logo, then it will be better to consult a trademark lawyer, and then proceed with the application.