Many people think that to trademark a logo all you need to do is to register the trademark. But in actuality to trademark a logo requires many additional considerations then registering a trademark that is simply a slogan trademark. The basic difference between registering a slogan trademark and a logo trademark is that trademark logos require that a design search be performed for the trademark or company logo. This is to ensure that the logo doesn't already exist and that your design is not going to infringe upon another companies design. During the search you are going to want to enlist the help of a trademark lawyer so that you can be sure that your logo does not infringe upon other trademark logos and then after the search the attorney can advise you on whether it is safe to proceed with your plan to register the company name as a trademark.
When it comes to doing trademark searches you can hire a trademark lawyer to do a very comprehensive search or you can do a search by yourself, which is the cheaper option. To do a basic search to see if your logo is already somebody else's trademark or if your logo is too similar to somebody else's trademark all you need to do is go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website at www.uspto.gov and do a search. But the best news is that you don't even have to do a search before you try and register your logo. But you want to keep in mind if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office determine that your logo is already being used by somebody else or is too similar in design they will deny your application and your filing fees will not be refunded.
Why trademark your logo?
This is probably one of the most important things that you are going to be doing because registering your trademark is going to give you legal protection and it is also going to let the general public know that you own that logo. Something else that you need to know is that when you see the trademark symbol, the R inside a circle, that mark can only be used after you have registered your logo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. You will also see the "TM" or "SM" symbol after other logos, what this stands for is that you are using the trademark but you have not yet registered it so it is a "common law" trademark to inform businesses that you own that logo. But this type of trademark offers very little protection, for the fullest amount of protection you are going to want to register your logo with the federal government.
1. How to trademark a logo
This website provides you with the basic information that you need in order to trademark a logo. The website also provides you with links to other resources that you might find useful in regards to trademarks.
2. How (And Why) To Trademark Your Logo
This website talks about why it is important to trademark your logo and what it actually means to trademark your logo. The website also offers tips on what you can do to trademark your logo.
3. The Trademark Logo: Small Business Bible.org
This article talks about why a logo is so important to any type of business. But the article also talks about other things that you need to know about trademark logos and how they are protected.
4. Trademark Logo
This website belongs to an actual company that will help you with any kind of trademark service that you need, including registering your trademark and designing your trademark.
8. Design your own Logo
This article was written to make sure that you understand the basics about logos. The article talks about everything that you are going to need to know about logos before you design your own logo.
10. United States Patent and Trademark Office Home Page
This website provides you with everything that you need to know about logos and trademarks, including a search engine that you can use to look at all of the registered logos that are currently trademarked.
Requirements for Registering a Trademark
Even though there are many requirements for registering a trademark all of these requirements will be satisfied if the trademark application is properly prepared.
Here are the basic steps that you are going to need to follow in order to trademark your logo:
1. The first requirement for a proper trademark filing is the name and address of the applicant for correspondence
2. Another necessity is a properly formulated listing of the goods or services provided with the mark. In fact this is where you might want to look into getting trademark assistance from a trademark lawyer at this stage. Many people feel that having a trademark lawyer's help at this stage is very invaluable. The reason for this is that you are going to want to draft the product description to reflect the product, but you are also going to want to use language that is different from a similar trademark to help you get your trademark.
3. The process also involves the requirement that if the mark has been used, the date of first use anywhere in the world and the date of first use in interstate commerce. In fact it is the best practice to document and preserve any evidence of your dates of first use, just in case there are any questions.
4. In order to register your trademark logo you are going to need to pay a total cost of $350 for each class of goods or services. But most people consider this fee to be a small fee when they compare the many benefits they are going to receive from registering their trademark.
5. The last thing that you are going to need to include with your application is a clear drawing of the mark and a specimen of the trademark.
a. The "drawing" is actually a depiction of your trademark and it needs to show how the logo is actually used. But if you are applying for the logo under the bona fide intention to use you are going to need to show in your drawing how you intend to use the logo.
b. The specimen is a real-world example of how the logo is actually used in the goods or in the offering of the services. The office will accept labels, tags, containers for the goods as an acceptable specimen. And one specimen is required for each class of goods or services specified in the application.
i. These are only required to be provided with applications that are based on actual use in commerce. They are not required for applications based on your future intended use of the logo.
Timeline for Registering a Trademark
If you are going to be registering your logo as a trademark you are going to need to know a basic timeline of how the entire registration process is going to last. On average you should expect at least 12 months but it can be as many as 18 months to register your logo. The application process takes this long because your application has to go through a series of stages in order for it to get approved or denied.
Here is a look at the various stages the application will go through in order to determine if it should be approved or denied:
1. Examination process
a. This usually takes place about 4 months after the trademark filing. But what happens is that a trademark lawyer at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will review the application and determine if the logo can be registered. If they decide that the logo should not be registered they will provide you with a latter of refusal explaining why it cannot be registered. You have six months to respond to the letter with any objections.
i. Most common reasons of refusal are : confusion between your logo and a logo that is already registered or that the mark is merely descriptive in relation to your goods or services
2. Publication for Opposition
a. This phase begins if the trademark lawyer has raised no objections to registering your logo or if you manage to overcome all of the objections that were initially raised. What happens is that the trademark attorney will approve the logo for publication on the Official Gazette, which is a weekly publication of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Then a Notice of Publication will be sent to you stating the date of the publication. The reason that it is published is to allow the general public to raise any objections to the logo getting registered as a trademark. They have 30 days from the publication date to file a Notice of Opposition or a Request to Extend Time to Oppose. But the good news is that only 3% of all marks, including logos are actually opposed.
i. If there is somebody who opposes you registering the logo as a trademark then something that is similar to a trial is held. What this does is it determines whether the opposition is based on valid grounds, such as the logo being similar to their logo.
ii. If no opposition is filed or if it is unsuccessful then the trademark application matures to a registered mark or receives a Notice of Allowance
3. Registration or Notice of Allowance
a. This is the third and final stage to registering trademark. And what happens depends on what the application was for, already in use or an intended to use application.
i. Already in use - if the logo has already been used in commerce then the U.S. Patent and Trademark attorney would register the mark and issue a registration certificate about 4 months after the date the mark was published
ii. Intent to use - the U.S. Patent and Trademark attorney will issue a Notice of Allowance about 4 months after the date of publication. Once this is done you have 6 months from the date of the Notice of Allowance to do one of two things: you can use the mark in commerce and submit a Statement of Use or you can request a 6 month extension of time to file a Statement of Use. Once the Statement of Use is filed and approved the U.S. Patent and Trademark attorney will issue a registration certificate.