Every business seems to have a trademark for whatever goods or services they are selling. But what if you are making money from video content? Do videos need a trademark as well?
YouTubers should trademark their channel name and any logo or slogan they use in branding and advertising. Getting a trademark will protect the channel from duplication or imitation that could hurt business. Having a distinct channel with trademarked branding can improve a YouTuber’s success.
Every business can benefit from the legal protection of a registered trademark, no matter what their ‘products’ may be. Keep reading to learn what a trademark can do for you as a YouTuber.
Why Should YouTubers Get a Trademark?
YouTubers should get a trademark for essentially the same reasons that any business owner needs a trademark – protection. Registering your trademark gives you legal protection from other content creators that may use a similar slogan, logo, or name. It could be confusing to viewers and hurt your views if someone else begins imitating your channel. Trademarking the channel will give you the protection you need to prevent this from happening.
You definitely want to get your channel trademarked as soon as possible so that you are the original content creator with that name or logo before anyone else. Your creative ideas should be reserved just for you and whatever you want to produce on your channel.
You are protected from other YouTubers imitating your channel, and you are also protected from anyone using your name, logo, or slogan without your permission. Anyone who is trying to get clout from the popularity that you built in your channel can receive legal repercussions. Of course, you can still approve the use of your trademark by others if you are wanting to collaborate. Registering your trademark will give you the option to protect your brand whenever it is needed.
Having a trademark will also help you build trust with your viewers. They can be confident about the originality of your content, and they know that they will always be able to find you with your name and logo. They won’t have to worry about being misled and they won’t have to worry about being able to find your channel. (Source)
What can YouTubers Trademark?
As a YouTuber, you can trademark the name of your channel, and any logos, images, slogans, or phrases you use in your content to promote your channel. However, there is no way to trademark actual video content. Any combination of words, phrases, symbols, and designs can be used as a trademark.
For a Youtube channel, this might be the name you use for the channel and the image you use as a profile picture. If there is a super unique phrase that you say to open or close each video that viewers associate with you as a content creator, you may also want to trademark that phrase.
For example, YouTubers Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal cohost a YouTube channel called Good Mythical Morning. They have the phrase “good mythical morning” trademarked since it is the name of their channel and the way that they start each episode. They also have their flame design trademarked that they use as their YouTube profile image and on various merchandise. No other YouTube creator is allowed to use any phrases similar to “good mythical morning” and cannot use the letters “GMM” to create the image of a flame.
Anything that you try to trademark needs to be unique. Common phrases cannot be trademarked, because it would restrict the use of a phrase that people are commonly using all the time for other purposes. Of course, your trademark also cannot be something that someone else has already registered as a trademark. The more unique your trademark is, the easier it will be to register, and the stronger protection you will have.
What Does a Trademark Protect?
Registering a trademark will protect it from imitation and unauthorized use. No other YouTuber will be able to have a channel that uses a confusingly similar name or logo. However, another YouTuber is still allowed to produce similar content to yours.
The trademark protects the use of the word, phrase, image, or design but it has no power over the actual video content. You cannot trademark certain types of video or the kinds of things you record and publish. The name and image trademark will make it difficult for someone else to create content that is so similar that viewers could be confused, but the subject matter may line up.
The trademark will protect against any unapproved inclusions or mentions of your name or logo in another creator’s videos. Outside of collaborations that you are aware of and approve of, other creators cannot use your branding to help them in their channel.
How to Get a Trademark
For something as global as YouTube, getting a trademark for your state or even for the U.S. will not be enough. You are going to want a foreign-protected trademark that covers The U.S. in addition to all of the other countries that produce YouTube videos. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a single application process that can get you domestic and foreign protection under the Madrid Protocol.
You will fill out an application online with a USPTO.gov account through their Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). Make sure your filing basis is for the Madrid Protocol. Getting your trademark officially registered is a fairly long and complicated process. The application will be reviewed by an attorney and may be rejected for a variety of different common errors. The trademark must go through a publication process as well before being processed for registration.
Many people find the process to be confusing, challenging, and time-consuming so they choose to hire an attorney to help. Although an attorney is not necessary for filing with the USPTO if you are a U.S. resident, they do recommend hiring one. A good attorney will be able to check the existing trademark database for any potentially conflicting trademarks and fill out the application both efficiently and correctly.
The application already has fees and paying legal fees will make the cost of registration go up. However, the cost is likely worth it when you consider the time and energy that you will save. Also, an attorney will help you avoid errors that cost additional fees to correct. There are multiple places throughout the process where errors could be made. If the examing attorney with USPTO finds any errors they will reject your application and you will have to submit the proper paperwork to correct your mistakes. Correcting mistakes will make the process take longer and cost more. (Source)