How to Trademark a Logo: Trademark Registration Process 2021
By simply creating and using a logo, a company has a full right over the logo even if it is not trademarked. In such a case, you have what is called a common-law logo trademark. However, without an officially registered logo, that right is limited and it doesn’t protect your business identity as it should be.
For that reason, you need to trademark a logo to have the ultimate brand identity protection. You can trademark a logo within your state or do it at the national level with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The logo application process is easy but can be challenging for new business owners. That is why we have created this content to walk through a guide on how to trademark a logo. In addition to how to trademark a name and a logo, you will also learn other aspects of trademarks such as the benefits of trademarking a logo, the cost of trademarking a name, and the level of trademark protection.
Benefits of Trademarking Your Logo
- A registered trademark offers a legal right to take action against alleged trademark infringement in a federal court.
- The public is notified about your trademark registration so that you are legally presumed to own the registered trademark.
- It makes trademark registration in other countries easier
- You can prevent the importation of foreign goods that infringe on your trademark.
Levels of Trademark Protection
There are distinct levels of trademark protections and the rights can be acquired in the following three ways:
Common-Law Trademark Rights
Common law trademark is the lowest level of trademark protection and simply requires the use of a symbol to make it your intellectual property. That is to say, by creating and using a mark in connection to your goods and services, you automatically have the sole right to use the trademark in your geographical region.
However, common law rights are limited to geographical areas in which you are providing your goods and services. As much as you have the right to use the trademark and can sue those who use similar marks in your region, your business doesn’t have the right to prevent another business in another geographical location from registering a similar trademark.
State Trademark Rights
The state trademark rights only protect your trademark within the state in which you are conducting business. This means that business owners in other states can legally use a similar trademark as that of your company.
With that said, it limits your business’s ability to expand into a new market outside of the state of registration.
To acquire state trademark rights, you will have to register your trademark with a trademark agency in your state. It will only require a state filing fee if you DIY the application process. If you hire an attorney or seek the help of an online trademark company to guide you through the process, it will cause service charges and filing fees.
Federal Trademark Rights
This is the highest degree of protection. It involves registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Registering a trademark with the USPTO comes with a lot of benefits. These include:
- Federal trademark allows for business expansion to other countries.
- The right to bring an infringement lawsuit in federal court
- The trademark becomes incontestable
- Prevent importation of foreign goods that infringe on your trademark.
How to Trademark a Logo
Ensure that your logo is distinctive
To trademark a logo, you start by determining the type of protection you need to be followed by selecting a mark. Selecting a mark must be done with a lot of care because not all marks are registrable with the USPTO. Besides, some marks may not be capable of serving as the basis for legal claims by your company seeking to prevent another company from using a similar logo on related goods and services.
For that reason, you must ensure your logo is distinctive and acceptable by the USPTO. To achieve that, you need to conduct a thorough search on the US trademark database to ensure you have not picked on a mark that is similar or close to an already registered trademark.
Ensure you search all the names and images you are considering. Search the internet as well- the internet can catch common law logos that you wouldn’t otherwise catch on a trademark database. Using a logo that is similar or close to an already registered one will make your application be rejected and you will restart the process.
Evaluate existing trademarks you find for possible conflicts
Once you apply for a trademark, an examining attorney searches USPTO records to find out whether your mark conflicts with the ones that are either registered or pending application in the USPTO. If there are conflicting trademarks or a likelihood of confusion with your mark, your application could be rejected by the USPTO.
For that reason, you need to evaluate the existing trademark you find for possible conflict before you apply. Your logo doesn’t have to be exactly as the already registered logos to risk rejection. Should the marks be similar in such a way that your goods or services would confuse consumers in the future, which is sufficient for rejection?
Prepare a trademark application
You will need to set up your USPTO.gov account  first. You will have to log into your USPTO account to access the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) – this is where you will be applying.
To simplify the registration process, you should have the following information ready:
- The name or logo design you want to trademark
- The business name
- Your name
- Information on whether this logo has already been in use or not, and how it has been used since then.
However, you may need an attorney to take you through the preparation process to maximize your prospect to obtain a solid and enforceable application. Thankfully, USPTO will confirm with you on their website whether or not you will need a trademark attorney.
File the application with the USPTO
You’ll use the Trademark Electronic Application System  (TEAS) to file for a trademark with USPTO and submit it online. TEAS only charges the trademark application fees.
TEAS has two different application options to choose from: Plus or Standard. The difference between these two is simple. TEAS Plus is designed to be easier for both USPTO and the applicant and usually charges lower fees. TEAS Standard on the other hand is known to have fewer initial requirements to receive a filing date.
You can either DIY the process, hire an attorney, or seek the help of an online trademark service such as LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer. DIY is the cheapest option with only a TEAS fee to worry about. However, you should not underrate the trademark application process and it is prudent to seek help from a third-party service. The best but the most expensive is hiring your attorney to take you through the process.
Follow up on your application
Applicants are required to monitor the progress of their trademark application throughout the process through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR)  system. You should check the status of your application at least every six months after the initial filing of the application. Failure to do so, you may miss a filing deadline.
Besides, it is always required that you work with an assigned USPTO examining attorney. Generally, after verifying that you met the minimum requirements, an application serial number is signed and your application is forwarded to a registered examining attorney.
The attorney reviews the application to determine whether it complies with the applicable rules and includes all the required fees. If the examining attorney determines that you have violated the rules, the attorney will issue a letter/ office action to you explaining why your mark cannot be registered.
In such a case, you or your attorney, if you have one, must submit a response within six months of the issue date of office action. Failure, the application will be declined and abandoned.
Monitor Your Trademarked Logo’s Use
Surprisingly, it is pretty much easier to successfully register a logo than to maintain it in the long run. For that reason, constant monitoring of your logo use is very important for improving your business.
Constant monitoring of your trademarked logo’s use will help you protect your company’s logo from being copied or mimicked by another party without your permission. Similar logos confuse customers into associating the two products.
Apart from trademark infringement, you should also monitor your logo to protect it from trademark dilution. This is simply using a company name or symbol in a way that decreases its uniqueness.
The good news, several online logo monitoring tools will effectively help you throughout the process.
How much does it cost to trademark a name?
The cost for trademarking  a brand name depends on some factors including the level of trademark protection, the state where you register your trademark and the service used.
The cheapest way is to DIY the trademarking process. This will leave you with only a company name trademark processing fee to worry about. This fee will depend on the level of trademark protection. The federal-level to of company name protection that involves registering the trademark with the USPTO costs more than the state application.
Another relatively cheaper way to trademark a company name is to use an online company service such as LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer. The two mentioned services will offer you an attorney service but at a much lower fee than hiring your trademark lawyer. However, they will cost you more than the DIY process because you will have to pay the company service fees plus either federal/state fees.
How much does it cost to register a trademark?
The cost of trademarking a logo variety, and trademark protection level. For instance, you will pay more fees if you use a lawyer than when you use a registering company or do it by yourself. Besides, trademarking a logo with the USPTO costs more than trademarking a logo with a state trademark office.
From our guide on how to trademark a logo, we can conclude that logo trademark application makes a lot of sense. Trademark protects your service mark from infringement by another company so that you don’t use similar logos. For that reason, if you are investing in a company name, or logo, you should seek a trademark registration to protect it.
Frequently Asked Questions
A logo can be protected by trademark and copyright. A trademark in my view covers a limited scope of the situation whereas copyright covers a range of instances of copying that is affecting the original creator’s business intent.
You can legally trademark a logo by registering your logo by either the secretary of state if you mean to conduct a business in your state or file a trademark application with USPTO. The fees for these two options differ, with the latter being more expensive.
You protect your brand identity by registering a trademark for your business name, logos, and slogans. Generally, you automatically make it your legal trademark by using a trademark symbol, but this doesn’t prevent someone from using the same symbol elsewhere. To protect the third party from using the same logo, you have to register with the relevant agency.
Trademarks are used to identify a company or a brand and for that reason, registering for trademark protection on the business name, logo or image makes a lot of sense.
You don’t need to hire an attorney to register a trademark with the USPTO unless you are foreign-domiciled. However, hiring an attorney is the best idea if you can afford one. An attorney can conduct an in-depth search to ensure you use a unique mark and will also offer you legal advice on how to protect your trademark.
+ 4 sources
- Uspto.gov. (2021). MyUSPTO. [online] Available at: https://my.uspto.gov/?iFtEtwLGdj0sG7wQNSkR2mzgojP41MBJ [Accessed 29 Jul. 2021].
- Uspto.gov. (2018). Apply online. [online] Available at: https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/apply [Accessed 29 May 2021].
- Uspto.gov. (2021). Trademark Status & Document Retrieval. [online] Available at: https://tsdr.uspto.gov/ [Accessed 29 May 2021].
- Uspto.gov. (2018). Trademark fee information. [online] Available at: https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/trademark-fee-information [Accessed 29 May 2021].