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Understanding Logos Under Trademark Law

Logo

Protects a company's name and logo, some of the company's most valuable assets;

Allows the company sole ownership and use of the logo;

Reduces the risk of another company claiming infringement against that company;

Makes it easier to enforce the trademark worldwide.

Logo Design with Trademark Registration in Mind:

When a company is established, one of the first goals is to trademark a logo to help build brand awareness, a key component to future success. When companies trademark a logo, it introduces consumers to the company. An attractive logo will stir up interest. The logo should be unique, though it should also be simple at the same time. Finding this perfect balance will make the logo synonymous with a company, and will make it easy for consumers to identify.

If companies trademark a logo to represent different aspects of the business, they should have similar designs. This is because courts grant more weight to trademarked logos with identical "family" marks. The design of the logo should also be done with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The Process to Trademark a Logo:

Once a logo has been finalized, the first step to trademarking a logo is to file it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Trademarking a logo can be quite difficult, because the similarity to other logo designs, while not exact, can be too close for the USPTO to approve.

A lawyer specializing in intellectual property will help expedite this time-consuming process. The ultimate deciding factor is determining if the logo is so similar as to create consumer confusion between the two logos.

The USPTO offers two applications for companies to submit their logo for trademark approval. The first is the regular application, which is filled out when the company already uses the logo in their products and daily business. The other is an Intent-to-Use form, requiring a more difficult process once it is finally approved and ready for use.

An intellectual attorney working for the USPTO then makes the final decision if the trademark is approved for registration. Companies should consider the fact that if they would like to change the logo of the company at any time in the future, a new trademark application will have to be filled out and processed.

NEXT: What Does Trademark Protection Cover?

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