June 18, 2013 Alchemist Studios

Your Logo Trademark

Once you have spent time, money and effort in devising the ideal logo for your company, the last thing you want is for it to be appropriated by one of your rivals or used by criminals selling counterfeit versions of your products.

Trademark… Logo… What’s the difference?

The definition of a trademark is a word, name, phrase or graphic design that is used by a business as an identifier for its products or services. Trademarks are protected by law, albeit differently depending on which country you are trading in. If another business uses your trademark on its products, or trades with an extremely similar trademark that could be confused for yours, it is breaking the law. Similar to a trademark, is a service mark, which is used to distinguish services rather than goods.

While a trademark can consist merely of a phrase or a couple of words, a logo is generally recognised to be a graphic device that is a signifier for a particular product or business. Even a logo that is just words or letters has a consistent design; on the other hand, a trademarked phrase may be used in any context or typeface as it is a phrase that is protected, not the design.

Is my trademark protected?

Depending on where you are trading, your trademark may or may not be protected. In certain countries you will need to register your trademark to keep it exclusive. However, in the UK, Canada and the United States, using a trademark consistently that has not already been used by someone else is deemed sufficient to establish it as your exclusive trademark.

Even so, there may still be some benefit to registering it in countries where it is protected automatically, especially if you are operating in an industry in which trademark infringement is common.

  • Internationally, you can protect your trademark by registering it with the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The associated Madrid Protocol prohibits the infringement of trademarks to protect both businesses and consumers.
  • In America you can register your trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The first step is to make sure your trademark is truly unique by performing a trademark search. You do not want to risk infringing a pre-existing trademark and it may be wise to consult with a trademark attorney at this stage. Once you have established this, you can file for trademark registration at either state or national level. To protect your trademark or logo in a particular state, apply for registration with the particular Secretary of State’s office – however, that will only offer protection in that one state. It is probably more sensible to file a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office to give yourself protection across the whole country. Once it is registered, you can utilise a trademark watch to alert you if third parties make use of your logo or a close copy of it.
  • In the UK you can register your trademark with the Intellectual Property Office. This will allow you to use the ® symbol next to your trademark or logo; registering also allows you to take legal action against businesses that infringe your trademark and it enables Trading Standards Officers to take action if they think the law has been broken. Unregistered trademarks are still protected but it can be difficult and expensive to prove what is known as a ‘passing off’ action.
  • To protect your trademark across the whole of the European Union you may apply for a community trademark (CTM) from the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market.

Although protecting your trademark through registration may require a fair quantity of administration and form filling, it is definitely worthwhile. Just ask someone whose trademark has been infringed, without being registered for protection, and they will tell you it simply isn’t worth the risk. Your logo or trademark represents your company and products in the marketplace; if someone appropriates it and sells shoddy, faulty goods using it, it is your company reputation that will suffer. Consumers need to be able to trust your business, so it pays to protect your good name.

Get in touch with The Alchemist Logo Design agency for more information regarding trademarking your logo design.

© Alchemist – is a professional logo design agency in London specialising in logo designs, graphics, stationery and printing. For more information have a look around the site and get in touch.

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