A trademark is a legal designation that prevents others from using an idea without permission. Intellectual property encompasses all works that are uniquely produced. Any creative work, including but not limited to, a sketch, a song, an idea, a novel, a movie, an invention, the code you’ve generated, a recipe, and even an implementation of a scientific discovery, can be considered intellectual property.
Something is your intellectual property if you make it. When it comes to your intellectual property, you have almost complete say over whether or not to sell it, to whom you’ll grant a license, and under what conditions and at what cost. You also have a say over how it can be expanded upon in the future, such as in a sequel.
Infringement occurs when a third party utilizes your intellectual property without your permission. In the United States, however, the Fair Use Doctrine protects you from having to give permission for every use of your intellectual property.
Outside of these exceptions, infringement is always illegal, and the owner of the IP has the right to pursue legal action against the infringer. Every designer needs to have a fundamental comprehension of intellectual property violation so that they can take proper actions when their intellectual property is stolen.
What distinguishes a trademark from a copyright?
The purpose of a trademark is served by a copyright. The distinctive feature of each is the variety of intellectual property they safeguard.
Novels, paintings, short tales, character names, invented settings, melodies, computer code, and other works of art that aren’t made with the intention of making a profit are all protected by copyright.
Brand names, custom logo designs, taglines, and slogans are all examples of intellectual property that get the protection of trademark because they are widely used to generate profits for a company.
What can a trademark protect?
Having a trademark shows that you take pride in your work and want to protect it. If you create a custom logo design, you gain the exclusive legal right to do so and can pursue legal action against anyone who steals it. However, trademark registration can give you additional safeguards and enhance your position.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is where trademarks are registered in the USA. Trademark protection is also available from equivalent bodies in other countries.
When you file your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, you gain the following benefits:
- The ability to sue in federal court over any trademark infringement claims.
- The general public is made aware of your trademark application.
- If you register a trademark, the law will treat it as though you actually own the trademark and have the right to use it in connection with the goods and/or services you’ve specified.
- This sets the way for the smooth registration of your trademark in other countries.
- You have the right to prohibit the importation of foreign products that violate your trademark.
What can’t a trademark protect?
Generic goods or services cannot be made proprietary through the use of a trademark. You can’t start a company called “Juicy Oranges” and then try to trademark the name and any associated imagery.
Similarly, the Fair Use Doctrine protects your intellectual property from being used in ways that a trademark cannot. In most cases, outsiders are permitted to utilize someone else’s branded or copyrighted work so long as they do not do anything that could confuse the target audience.
Can you use your trademark anywhere in the world?
No. Protecting your custom logo design through trademarking will only do so in the jurisdiction in which the trademark application was originally filed. Your logo may be easier to register in one nation than another, but you still need to file for a trademark in each country where you want legal protection for it.
So, who really owns the trademarked logo?
You make it, you own it. When you hire logo design services to create one for you that can attract logo traffic, you can claim ownership of the trademark once you pay for the service. In most cases, a Transfer Agreement is signed by all involved parties.
Since you own the trademark, you get to say who gets to use it and where, as well as whether or not the logo will be altered or changed.
How to get your logo successfully trademarked?
Can you do it on your name?
Yes. However, it must be for legitimate commercial reasons. Suppose your name is Aly Burdur and you make one-of-a-kind resin studs. A business name such as designrush or Earrings by designrush is completely trademarkable.
However, in this case, intellectual property protection provided by a trademark application is limited to the field in which your business operates. There is no need for you to worry about copyright infringement if another Aly Burdur chooses to trademark the name Aly Burdur photography for her picture business.
You should give serious consideration to using your name as a trademark for your brand. Giving your name to a brand is a simple method to distinguish your product, but it also means that the brand will continue to exist even if you no longer work for the company.
Karen Millen, a designer from the United Kingdom, experienced this exact thing. She left her retail company in 2004 after playing a crucial role in turning it into the global brand it is today. However, she is unable to file a new trademark in the UK with a name that is confusingly close to Karen Millen because the firm is already established there under that name. Because doing so would be in violation of the conditions of her 2004 agreement, a court decided in 2016 that she also could not use her name to brand apparel and home items in the United States and China.
How to know your company logo qualifies for a trademark?
If you hired experienced logo design services for your custom logo design, then there isn’t much chance that the government body will deny your trademark request. However, if the logo seems unprofessional and weak, you will not qualify.
What are the qualities of a good logo?
When it comes to intellectual property, a logo or brand that stands out must be completely original. For example, Apple computers and White Castle hamburgers are both examples of trademarked names that aren’t commonly linked with the products they represent.
A poor logo or name, on the other hand, is one that is either too descriptive of the product or too generic (such a symbol or emoji). Few examples include Gray Brick Daycare Center, Trustworthy Law Firm, and Delicious Ice Cream.
How long does it typically take to get a logo trademarked?
The entire process of trademarking a custom logo design, from application to issuance, typically takes between six to nine months. However, complex cases can take as long as three years.
How much is it going to cost?
The fee to trademark a logo varies from one country to the next. Including legal fees, the total cost to trademark a logo in the United States is between $275 and $660. The average cost to trademark a logo with a state trademark office ranges from $50 to $150 (this provides the same protection as federal registration, but only within the jurisdiction of the filing state).
Understanding the logo trademark process
Conduct a search of national and state databases before applying for trademark registration to see if a competitor is using a logo that is confusingly similar to yours. Internet searches are also useful at this step since they can reveal common logo laws you might have missed. In order to avoid having your logo application refused and having to start over from scratch, you should do extensive research on all of the names and images you are considering.
The next step is to submit an application to your country’s trademark agency, such as the USPTO in the US, once you’ve established that your custom logo design is distinct enough from those of other brands.
At this point, one of two things is possible. Depending on whether or not the trademark office finds any problems with your logo, they may either approve it for publication (which leads to registration) or take office action. If this happens, you’ll find out why the logo didn’t make the cut and have six months to come up with a new one. If at this point there are no further problems, the trademark office will likely authorize the logo and make it public. You have six months to reply to the office action, or they may take it again if the problems are not rectified.
Whether or not the logo satisfies the trademark office’s standards for trademarking a logo will determine if it gets published after the second office action.
Having a lawyer is a must?
No. Getting a trademark for your logo is something you can do on your own. However, hiring legal representation can be helpful. An intellectual property attorney can help you apply for a trademark and manage all the necessary paperwork. Since they have probably done this many times before, your lawyer can make the process as straightforward and stress-free as possible, saving you time, effort, and the possibility of making a mistake.
My trademark application was denied. Now what?
Your trademark application may be denied for a variety of reasons. For example:
- Logo is very generic.
- There is a substantial possibility that consumers will mix up your logo with one that has already been registered as a trademark.
- Your logo serves more as a decoration than an actual trademark.
- You can’t trademark your logo because it uses objectionable language or images (but there are exceptions).
- The logo’s visual elements or text incorrectly convey the idea that your business or its products originate in a particular region.
An appeal can be filed with the trademark office if you believe the rejection was unjustified, increasing the likelihood that your application will be approved on a second try. If your logo is rejected as ineligible for trademarking, you will need to start from scratch and design a new one.