Can You Patent a Logo?
If you have a logo that you want to protect, you might be wondering if you can patent it to keep others from copying or using it. So, to answer the question: Can you patent a logo? Logos cannot be patented. That said, you can still protect your intellectual property (your logo) by registering it as a trademark with the USPTO. Also, if your logo is artistic and creative, it might qualify for automatic copyright protection. More on this below.
The appropriate intellectual property (IP) protection for a logo is trademark registration. You can do this by registering your logo as a trademark by filing an online application at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Why Can’t Logos be Patented?
So, you’re probably wondering, why can’t you patent a logo. Logos cannot be patented because patents only protect inventions, processes, and ornamental designs that are applied to an object. As mentioned previously, the proper IP protection for a logo is trademark law.
So, what can you trademark? You can register a logo with the trademark office if you’re using the logo to signal to customers that you are the source of the product or service that’s associated with your logo.
Successfully registering your trademark with the USPTO offers many benefits, such as nationwide trademark protection for the class of goods or services that you provide, the ability to sue infringers of your trademark in federal court, and after five years of registration no one can challenge your trademark. So, it’s very important to register your trademark with the trademark office.
In addition to trademark protection, your logo may qualify for copyright protection if it’s artistic. So, what do we mean by artistic? Artistic means that you’ve created a logo that includes something more than just a name and some text.
If you have an artistic logo, such as the Starbucks logo, your logo might qualify for copyright protection. Copyright protection applies automatically, so while you aren’t required to register your logo to have copyright protection, registering is important and offers several benefits.
One of these benefits is that you’ll be able to show that you were the first to person to register the logo that you’re using. If someone else claims they created the artwork, you can show the court your registration certificate to prove that you have an early registration date.
Trademark Protection or Copyright Protection?
Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between either registering your trademark with the trademark office or your copyright with the copyright office, you can protect your logo with both forms of intellectual property protection simultaneously.
There are some benefits and drawbacks to each. Trademark tend to only protect their owners in situations where someone uses the trademark to misidentify themselves as the source of product or service you’re offering. As such, in a trademark infringement lawsuit, you will only be able to defend that type of misuse of your mark.
Copyright protection is automatic and tends to be broader than trademark protection. Also, if someone makes unauthorized use of your artwork, you can enforce your rights by filing a lawsuit against the party that’s infringing upon your artwork in federal court.
Why Should You Register Your Logo with the Trademark Office?
You should register your logo with both offices if any of the following situations apply:
- Your Logo is Popular
If you have a logo that your customers associate with you or your business, it’s a great idea to seek the best protection. This is so because if someone else uses your logo, this will confuse your customers as to the source of the product or service that you’re offering. To avoid this, register your trademark and sue any parties that infringe upon your intellectual property.
- Prevent Others From Stealing Your IP
If your logo is valuable and helps customers determine that you are the source of the product or service that you’re offering, you need to protect it from being used by others to avoid confusing your customers. Registering your trademark allows you to add the (r) registered logo to tell potential thieves that you’ve taken the necessary steps to protect your intellectual property.
Adding the (r) registered logo reduces the chances of someone else copying your logo and passing it off as their owner. In the event that someone uses your logo without your permission, you will be able to enforce your rights by suing them for trademark infringement in federal court.
- Nationwide Protection
By trademarking your logo, you will be granted nationwide protection for the use of your logo as it pertains to the class of good for which you have registered it. Said differently, if you registered your logo to offer tax services. You will be the only person allowed to use that logo to advertise their tax services in the United States. This is a great benefit of federal registration.
What Should You Do Prior to Registering Your Trademark?
Before registering your trademark, you should conduct a search with the USPTO to make sure that no one has registered the trademark for the class of goods or services that your trademark relates to. If you conduct a search and the search turns up no exact or similar marks, you’re ready to register yours.
To register your trademark, you need to fill out the online trademark registration form. This form requires disclosure of basic information such as the name of the person or business applying for the trademark, as well as when you started using the trademark, and the trademark (logo) itself.
Once you’ve prepared the application, you need to file it and pay the appropriate filing fees to the USPTO. After filing your application, you should get a confirmation email with the serial number that the trademark office has assigned to your trademark application.
After filing your application, you should periodically check the status of your trademark application. You can do this by entering the serial number that the trademark office provided you with at USPTO.gov. This will give you the most recent information about the status of your application.
Patenting Your Logo
By now, you should know that patenting a logo is not possible. However, we explored other options, such as registering your logo with the trademark office and registering it with the copyright office. Both forms of registration offer different protection, but since you’re allowed to do both, having both registrations is the best way to protect your logo. That said, if you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.