This is Part 2 of a 3-part series of blog posts about logos. Click here for Part 1, “Who Owns Your Logo?” Click here for Part 3, “Should You Register Your Logo With the Copyright Office?”
Should you register your logo as a trademark?
A lot of new clients of my firm assume that they need to register their company logo with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). That’s not always the case. But it can be advantageous in some circumstances.
Quick review–a trademark is anything that identifies you as the source of your goods or services. So your logo is most definitely a trademark, in the sense that the purpose of a logo is to tell the consumer where the goods or services came from. That’s true of the Nike swoosh on a pair of sneakers, the Apple logo on the back of an iPhone, or your logo.
For more information about trademarks and the advantages of trademark registration, go to What Is A Trademark?
So you have a logo, you know that you or your company owns it, and it’s a “trademark” in the sense that it identifies your business. Should the logo be registered as a trademark with the USPTO?
The answer is…
Well, of course this blog isn’t a substitute for legal advice, and I can’t advise you whether you should take any action via a blog post.
That said, the answer is “maybe”.
In most cases, the first priority is to register the name of your business and any brand names that you use for your products or services. Names are the most common source of trademark conflicts, so when my clients are deciding which trademarks to register, the names usually come first.
If you’re on the fence about it, here are some factors to consider:
- Is your logo a distinct part of your branding? Meaning, are customers or clients going to be drawn to your goods/services because of your logo?
- Is your business based around your own personal services–meaning, you’re selling yourself more than a separate product–if so, then maybe protecting your logo won’t be crucial to your business’ success.
- Is your logo a memorable icon, like the Nike swoosh, or is it just the name of your business or product in a particular font? Icon-based logos are typically a higher priority in terms of trademark protections, whereas name-based logos may not be as valuable.
- Are you importing products or selling goods online? If so, obtaining trademark protection for your logo may be an important step in the ongoing fight against knockoff goods.
None of these factors are decisive in all cases, of course. They’re just food for thought.