A logo is a design, a stylized text, or both. It represents your business or product in a manner that is distinctive enough to set it apart from others.
The Nike ”swoosh” symbol and the uniquely stylized lettering of the Coca-Cola trademark are two examples of internationally successful logos.
Without the exclusive trademark rights attached to these logos, however, they would be commercially useless.
Here are a few tips from our trademark registration attorneys to make a great logo work for your business or product.
1. Focus on Uniqueness from the Design Stage
The advantage of a logo over plain text is that a logo can make your business name stand out. It can incorporate a familiar image, such as a camel, or it can rely on stylized text. Some of the more successful logos merge both graphics and text.
You need to use your logo the same way every time to effectively identify your product. However you present your logo, you must ensure that it is not easy to confuse with someone else’s.
To receive protection, a logo must not create a “likelihood of confusion” to another logo in the market.
2. Thoroughly Research Your Logo to Confirm Its Uniqueness
This task is a lot more difficult than it may appear at first. Sure, it is relatively easy to confirm the uniqueness of your logo’s text, if it has any. All you have to do is type your text into a search bar.
The universally accepted alphabetical order will do the rest of the work for you by displaying the closest matches. But what about the design elements?
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to its credit, has created an alternate “alphabetical order” for hundreds of design elements that may appear in a logo. It assigns codes to various design elements, which allow you to compare various design elements to determine how similar a given logo is to yours.
How a Trademark Lawyer Can Help
With hundreds of design elements, the USPTO design element “alphabet” is unwieldy at best. Even if you manage to locate a close match, the question remains—exactly how close is close enough to be “confusingly similar”?
Under these circumstances it is difficult to avoid the need to exercise the legal judgment that a lawyer can provide.
3. Register With the USPTO: How to Trademark a Logo Nationwide
Logo registration at the federal level can be a tricky process. Nevertheless, getting a logo trademarked should be a priority for your business. A trademark lawyer should be able to provide you with some individualized trademarking tips that will help you maximize the value of your trademark.
You file your trademark application with the USPTO. The Trademark Examiner will review the application and may issue an office action that will need a response. You can use your trademark in commerce without registering it with the USPTO.
However, federal registration does offer the following benefits, among others:
- You enjoy nationwide protection, instead of the local protection that state and/or common law offers
- You can seek “incontestable” status after five years of registration
- The USPTO will refuse to register confusingly similar competitors
- Federal registration can serve as a basis for international registration
- You can seek protection against the import of infringing products
- You can seek increased damages against counterfeiters
All things considered, it is much easier to enforce a registered trademark than a common law trademark.
4. Aggressively Enforce Your Rights
A full arsenal of intellectual property rights will do you very little good if you don’t enforce your rights. Authorities such as US Customs and Border Protections will help you enforce some of your trademark rights. Most of the burden of enforcement, however, will fall on you and your trademark lawyer.
You will need to continue monitoring the market, both domestically and internationally, to make sure that no one is infringing your trademark rights.
If you discover infringement, you will need to execute an enforcement plan, which might include anything from a simple “cease and desist” letter to a full-blown trademark infringement lawsuit.
5. Make It Happen
The experienced intellectual property lawyers at The Polasek Law Firm can assist you in protecting your brand. Although Texas common law can provide your logo with a degree of protection, USPTO registration is the best way to effectively protect trademarks nationwide.