If you’ve ever seen certain symbols next to a brand name or a logo and wanted to know the significance that they played on a business, you’ve come to the right place.
In this brief overview, we will be going over trademarks and the importance of trademarking a logo in order to ensure your brand design is safe, saving you time, money, and any potential legal headaches later on as you grow.
Before we get into trademarks and how you can trademark your brand’s logo, it should first be noted that, even now, there is some level of protection towards your logo.
From the moment you create or design a logo, you are protected under something known as a “Common-Law Trademark”. This essentially affords you the sole legal right to your logo and its use.
What is so great about a common-law trademark is that it is applied automatically to a design without the need for filing any patents or paperwork.
The challenge that comes with these trademarks, however, is that, because they not officially registered, they do not hold to the same level of scrutiny an officially recognized and trademarked logo would. This means that, if the courts were to decide who had legal standing over a logo, the one that has been officially trademarked will ultimately win out.
Now with that out of the way, here are some of the top questions surrounding trademarking a logo and what steps you can take to ensure your intellectual property is safe.
What is a Trademark?
As we now know what a Common-Law Trademark is, it’s important that we understand exactly what an officially registered trademark actually is as well as what it consists of.
Firstly, a trademark is a legally recognized determination that you own your intellectual property and that that ownership cannot be infringed upon.
What this means is that anything you have created (such as a song, a movie, an invention, or a logo drawing, etc) is yours to do with as you please and cannot be used by any third party without your express consent.
In most cases, an intellectual property (I.P.) can be licensed out to others or outright sold if the owner does not wish to retain ownership.
If used without your consent, an IP that is protected by a trademark has been “infringed” upon. Infringing upon another’s IP comes with serious legal ramifications for the guilty party which is why ensuring that you have suitably trademarked your IP is so important.
What is the difference between a Trademark and a Copyright?
For many, the two terms can often be mistaken for one another due to their similar functions in the legal world. There are some key differences between the two, however, and this largely comes down to what type of IP they are protecting.
For those seeking to trademark an object, they are doing this specifically for IPs that exist specifically for commercial use. These items can include logos, slogans, and brand names or mascots.
Comparatively, a copyright is used in order to protect the artistic endeavors of a person. Things like a book, song, fictional names or worlds, or visual pieces of art are all protected by a copyright.
The biggest difference between the two comes down to the nature of the IP in question. If the subject is intended to be used commercially (ie. the name ‘Star Wars’) it is given a trademark while a subject that is not explicitly intended for commercial use (ie. the character ‘Yoda’) would be a form of a copyright.