One of the best ways to build your brand’s identity is to have a logo to represent it. Consider the logo as the ultimate symbol for everything that your business stands for. Given that a logo is an essential business investment, it is also just as important to take every step to protect it. Without adequate protection, you may unknowingly infringe on another business’ logo as well as make it easy for others to steal yours. Both of these situations can result in costly consequences, and often, lengthy legal battles.
So, before you roll out your logo into the market, you must first make sure you are getting a trademark. Trademarking allows you to protect the logo by preventing other people from using it without your permission. To get a trademark and protect your logo, you should consider the following process.
1. Assess the logo
First, you need to assess the logo to ensure that it is the exact visual representation you want for your business. If you are working with a graphic designer, you need to discuss every graphical element you want the logo to have and what they represent in your business. From these, your graphic designer should be able to come up with a unique logo design that accurately stands for your business.
Along with this note, it is also crucial that your logo:
- Is distinctive and not confusing
- Is not offensive
- Does not hold a striking resemblance with other logos already in the market.
2. Perform a logo search
Once you have a completed logo design, you now have to make sure that it is as unique and distinct as possible.
Initially, you can do a logo search by uploading your design on Google images. Look into each search result and cross check with your logo. If you don’t see any image that’s similar to yours, then you can move to the next step.
Now, you have to make sure that your logo isn’t anywhere similar to the logos found in the US Patent and Trademark System Office (USPTO). You can also search the public library of USPTO free of charge during weekdays and office hours. As it can be time-consuming to do a logo search, you may hire a trademark attorney to expedite the process. A trademark attorney knows the ins and outs of trademarking a logo and what to do should they find conflicting logos.
3. File for your logo’s trademark
Trademarking rules are different for each country. It is also best to file for trademark application where you will be conducting most of your business. In the US, you can submit your application online via the Trademark Electronic Application System or TEAS. You will then receive a summary and tracking number of your application via email. When sending your application, you must remember that:
- You can only file for one trademark for each application
- You need a clear scanned image of your logo as well as a written description
- The application is not refundable. Fees range between $225 to $325
- Your application will belong to the public record
4. Waiting for Progress
After filing for a trademark application, all you have to do now is wait. It usually takes anywhere from three to six months for the examining attorney to determine whether or not your logo design comes into conflict with other trademarks. As you wait for progress, you can watch out for any notifications that come from the trademark office. Expect for delays should issues or conflicts be standing in your way. You need to address these issues first before you can be granted with the trademark.
5. Getting the Final Decision
At this point, the trademark office will have the final decision ready. Your application can either be rejected or approved. If it is denied, they will let you know the reasons for the rejections that you need to correct and address. You may be able to file an appeal, but you should do it within six months. Otherwise, the trademark office will consider your case as abandoned.
If the application is approved, your logo will appear on the “Official Gazette” weekly, giving other parties to object within 30 days. If there are no objections, the trademark is yours.
6. Renew Your Trademark
You must keep using your trademarked logo in commerce for as long as possible to prove that you own such trademark and prevent other parties from stealing it. However, you must also take note that when your trademark reaches its fifth year, you need to file an official declaration that you are still using such trademark. And on the 10th year, you need to register for a renewal. At this point, you need to provide an official declaration that it is still in use, along with photographic proof that you are indeed using it in business.
Getting a trademark to protect your logo can seem like a time-consuming and toiling process, but it’s the best way to protect your logo from infringement. You must seek legal protection immediately if you consider your logo as an essential piece of your business’ identity.