Protect Your Logo: Trademark, Register, or Copyright

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.
If you buy something from a Photutorial link, we may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.
Protect Your Logo Trademark, Register, or Copyright

Are you looking for ways to protect your logo? Are you wondering if trademarking, registering, or copyrighting your logo is the best option? In this article, we will discuss the differences between trademarking, registering, and copyrighting a logo and explain why it’s important to protect your logo. Here’s what all business owners must know:

Trademarking vs patenting vs copyrighting

Trademarking, patenting, and copyrighting are legal concepts that protect your intellectual property, but each serves a distinct purpose. By trademarking, patenting, or copyrighting your logo, you can protect your unique identity and maintain your business’s reputation and value.

Trademarking a logo: It is the process of registering a symbol, word, or phrase that represents your brand with the government. A registered trademark gives you exclusive rights to use your logo in connection with your goods or services, thus protecting your brand identity and preventing confusion in the market.

Patenting a logo: Patenting a logo is a process of obtaining legal protection for an invention. To patent a logo, it must meet the criteria of a new and non-obvious invention. The patent allows you to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing the invention for a certain period. However, this is generally impossible because logos are not considered inventions.

Copyrighting a logo: This involves registering your original work of authorship with the government to gain exclusive rights to use and distribute it. Copyright protection for a logo arises automatically as soon as it is created, but registering it with the government provides additional legal benefits.

Trademarking a Logo

What is trademarking?

Trademarking is the process of legally registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to gain the exclusive right to use your trademark to identify your goods or services. It prevents other proprietors from using a similar logo or brand name, which may confuse consumers.

For example, suppose a company was to register a domain name that sounds similar to Apple (like “Aple”) but is spelled differently. In that case, Apple could take legal action against them under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

Benefits of trademarking a logo

  • Legal protection: Trademark registration protects your logo and brand name, allowing you to take legal action against anyone who uses a similar logo or brand name in a way that causes confusion among consumers.
  • Exclusive rights: Once your trademark is registered, you can use your logo and brand with your goods and services, and no one else can use a similar logo or brand name without your permission (also called “trademark infringement”).
  • Increased credibility: Trademarking your logo and brand name can increase your company’s trustworthiness. It shows that you take your brand seriously and are committed to protecting it.
  • Boosts brand recognition: As a trademark owner, you can increase your brand visibility and value over time.

How to Trademark a Logo

  1. Conduct a trademark search: Before filing a trademark application, it’s important to conduct a trademark search to confirm that your logo and brand name are not registered by someone else.
  2. File a trademark application: Once you’ve completed your trademark search, you can file a trademark application with the USPTO. This involves providing your company’s information and products.
  3. Wait for approval: Once you’ve filed your trademark application, you’ll need to wait for the USPTO approval. This process can take several months to a year, depending on the backlog of applications.
  4. Monitor your trademark: After registering your trademark, monitor it to ascertain that no one uses an identical logo or brand name.

Requirements for Trademarking a Logo

To trademark a logo, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • Distinctiveness: Your logo must be personalized and distinguishable from existing logos or trademarks.
  • Commercial capabilities: Your logo must be used in commerce in the U.S. and represent the goods and services you offer.
  • Transparency: It should not imply a false connection with any other person, place, or product.

Cost of Trademarking a Logo

The cost of trademarking a logo can vary depending on the complexity of your application and the services you use. But, on average, it can range from $225 to $400, plus any legal fees you may incur.

How long does Trademarking a Logo take?

Logo trademarking can take several months to a year, depending on the number of applications at the USPTO.

Differences between Trademarking a Logo and Registering a Company Name

While trademarking a logo and registering a company name serve to protect your brand, there are some key differences worth noting:

  • Purpose: Trademarking a logo protects your brand identity and logo while registering a company name protects the name under which your company does business.
  • Scope: Trademark protection applies to using your logo for specific goods and services, while company name registration focuses on how you use your company name in general.
  • Process: Trademarking a logo involves filing an application with the USPTO and undergoing a review process, while registering a company name typically involves filing with your state’s Secretary of State office.
  • Cost: Trademarking a logo can be more expensive than registering a company name, as it involves a more complex legal process and review.

Do I need to Trademark my Business Name and Logo?

Trademarking your business name and logo will depend on your business and the protection level you need for your brand. Lack of a trademark can leave your brand vulnerable to infringement, making it more difficult to apprehend proprietors with a concurrent logo or brand name.

Patenting a Logo

What is Patenting?

A patent is a form of intellectual property protection that gives the holder exclusive rights to make, use, and sell an invention for a certain period. You can obtain a patent for your logo based on its unique design elements.

Benefits of Patenting a Logo

Patenting a logo provides several benefits, including:

  • Exclusive rights: The patent holder has sole ownership of the logo and the right to use it however they see fit.
  • Legal protection: A patented logo is protected by law and can be enforced against infringement.
  • Increased value: Patented logos can boost your business or brand’s worth.
  • Competitive advantage: A patented logo sets your business apart from competitors and can give it an upper hand.

How to Patent a Logo

The process of patenting a logo involves several steps, including:

  1. Research: Search for logos that are identical to yours to ensure the originality of your logo.
  2. Prepare a patent application: Draft a detailed application describing your logo’s design and uniqueness.
  3. File the patent application: Submit the patent application to the appropriate patent office.
  4. Review and examination: The patent office will review your application and may request additional information or modifications.
  5. Issuance: If the patent office determines that your logo meets all the requirements, it will issue a patent.

Requirements for Patenting a Logo

To patent a logo, the design must be:

  • Authentic: The logo must be a new design.
  • Novel: The logo must be significantly different from existing logos.
  • Non-obvious: You must not derive your logo from existing ones.

Cost of Patenting a Logo

On average, the cost of patenting a logo in the United States can range from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

How long does it take to Patent a Logo?

Patenting a logo depends on several factors, including the complexity of the design, patent applications, and the country in which you file it. As a result, it can take several years to obtain one.

Do I have to Patent my Logo?

Patenting a logo is highly recommended for businesses that want to protect their intellectual property and gain a competitive edge. By patenting a logo, proprietors can secure their design and prevent unauthorized use.

Copyrighting a Logo

Your logo uniquely represents your company and can be used in various ways, from marketing materials to product packaging. In this section, we will discuss what copyrighting is, the benefits of copyrighting your logo, how to copyright your logo, the requirements for copyrighting, the cost, and how long it takes.

What is Copyrighting?

A copyright is a form of legal protection that gives the creator of original works exclusive rights to use and distribute their work. Copyright protection applies to a wide range of inventions, including logos, graphic designs, and illustrations.

Benefits of Copyrighting a Logo

  • Preserves your brand identity: Copyrighting your logo helps keep your brand and business safe from infringement and confusion in the market.
  • Boosts your brand value: Copyrighting your logo indicates that you are taking steps to increase its market authority. This can be beneficial if you plan to sell or license your brand.

How to Copyright a Logo

Copyrighting a logo requires you to create an original design first. Then, you can register your logo with the U.S. Copyright Office by following these steps:

  1. Preliminary research: Before registering your logo, it’s a good idea to search the U.S. Copyright Office copyright and trademark database to confirm your logo isn’t already protected by someone else’s copyright.
  2. Prepare your application: To register your logo, you’ll need to fill out an application and provide a copy of your logo. You’ll also need to pay a fee.
  3. Submit your application: Once you’ve prepared your application, you can submit it online or by mail.

Requirements for Copyrighting a Logo

  • Original Design: To be eligible for copyright protection, your logo must be authentic and created by you.
  • Deposit Copy: You’ll need to provide a deposit copy of your logo to the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • Fee Payment: You must provide payment for the registration of your logo with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Cost of Copyrighting a Logo

Registering a single logo can range from $35 to $85, depending on the type of application you choose.

How long does it take to Copyright a Logo?

Depending on the U.S. Copyright Office’s processing time and the type of application you choose, it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

Differences between Copyrighting a Logo and Trademarking a Logo

Copyright protects your logo’s artistic and creative aspects, while trademark protects your brand and logo’s commercial use. It’s possible to have both copyright and trademark protection for your logo, and in many cases, it’s recommended.

Do I need a Copyright for my Logo?

Yes. By registering your logo with the U.S. Copyright Office, you are taking an important step in gaining legal protection for your business and securing its value.

Should your copyright or trademark your logo?

To summarize, logos can be protected both by trademark and copyright, but it depends on the specifics of the logo design and how it’s used. If the logo is an original artwork and used as a brand identifier, both trademark and copyright protection can be applied. Trademarks provide wider protection against others using similar logos for similar goods or services but can be harder to register for if the logo is not deemed creative enough.

On the other hand, copyrights protect the original artistic expression in the logo, but only cover instances of copying that affect the original creator’s business. Some companies choose to claim both trademark and copyright for added protection.

Registering a Logo: Why it’s Important for Your Business

When starting a business, there are many important decisions you need to make, and one of them is protecting your brand. One way to do this is by registering your logo. In this section, we will explore what registering a logo means, its benefits, how to do it, and why it’s important for your business.

What does Registering a Logo mean?

Registering a logo is the process of legally registering your company’s logo with a government agency, such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This helps to protect your brand and logo from infringement and gives you the exclusive right to use it in your business.

Benefits of Registering a Logo

  • Exclusive use of your logo: Registering your logo gives you the restrictive right to use it in connection with your business. No one else can use a similar logo for similar products or services.
  • Legal protection: If someone else uses your registered logo, you have lawful grounds to take action against them.
  • Increased brand recognition: A registered logo can increase brand visibility and help build customer loyalty. People are more likely to remember and recognize your brand when they see your logo.
  • Value maximization of your business: Registering your logo provides value to your business and can increase its worth if you decide to sell it.

How to Register a Logo

Registering a logo varies depending on the country you’re in. In the U.S., registering a logo starts by filing an application with the USPTO. It also involves a series of steps, including:

  • Trademark search: The initial step in filing your application is running your trademark through trademark search electronic systems to review logos that are already in use.
  • Applying: The next step is to submit information about your logo, business, and the products or services you offer to the USPTO.
  • Review and approval process: After you file your application, the USPTO will review it, and if everything is in order, they will approve your logo for registration.

Requirements for Registering a Logo

To register your logo, you’ll need to meet certain requirements, including:

  • Authentic logo: Your logo must be new and not belong to anyone else.
  • Use in commerce: Strictly use your logo in connection with your business and your products and services.
  • Properly formatted application: Confirm that you present a properly written application and include all the required information, such as your logo, business name, and products or services.

Cost of Registering a Logo

Registering a logo starts at $225 and varies with its complexity and your products or services.

How long does it take to Register a Logo?

Registering a logo can take several months to complete. This includes the time it takes to conduct a trademark search, file your application, and complete the review and approval process.

Do I need to Register my Logo?

Registering your logo is integral to your legal protection and the right to use it in connection with your business. However, it is not a legal requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Starting and running a business can be confusing and overwhelming, especially when it comes to protecting your brand and logo. Here are some frequently asked questions that can help clear up any confusion.

Do I have to Trademark a Logo?

No, you don’t have to trademark a logo, but it is highly recommended. Trademarking your logo protects it from fraud and grants you the right to use it in connection with your business.

Do I have to Copyright your Logo?

Although copyrighting your logo is not a requirement, it provides you with legal protection and the exclusive right to use it. This helps to prevent others from using your logo without your permission, which can harm your brand and business.

Do I need to Register a Logo?

Registering a logo is not a legal requirement but is recommended if you need legal protection and the free will to use it with the products you sell. It also plays a role in boosting your brand awareness and business worth.

Trademark, Patent, Copyright, or Register?

Securing your logo through trademarking, patenting, copyrighting, or registering is a worthwhile investment for your business. It provides you the legal security and privileged right to use your logo, as well as boost your business’s brand recognition and value. However, consider the requirements, cost, and time involved in the process. Ultimately, the route you choose to go depends on your business’s needs and long-term goals.


Leave a Comment