Should logos be trademarked or copyrighted [Beginner's Guide]



Last updated : Sept 24, 2022
Written by : Terica Slay
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Should logos be trademarked or copyrighted

Is a logo a trademark or copyright?

Generally, logos and designs that are used as brand identities for representing businesses are protected as trademarks. As they are original artistic works that have an element of creativity, they are also protected as copyrights.

Should logo have a copyright?

Is a logo subject to copyright? Yes. A logo that includes artistic or design elements, (i.e. not just the name on its own), is legally regarded as being a work of artistic creation and therefore will be protected under copyright law. Copyright protects the logo as an artistic work.

Can a logo be copyrighted?

Can a logo be copyrighted? Yes, a logo can be both copyrighted and trademarked. A logo has a copyright as soon as it has been created, but the copyright owner can also register the logo with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Which is better trademark or copyright?

Copyright protects original work, whereas a trademark protects items that distinguish or identify a particular business from another. Copyright is generated automatically upon the creation of original work, whereas a trademark is established through common use of a mark in the course of business.

Can you use a logo if it's not trademarked?

Logos don't even need to be registered as trademarks to be protected under current law. This means that using someone else's logo without permission, even if it's unregistered, is against the law.

Is it better to trademark a name or logo?

Which One Should I Trademark? It depends. Higher value tends to lie in name recognition rather than familiarity of a logo. Since logos change more often than names, it usually makes more sense to register a standard character mark to protect the business moniker itself.

How can I protect my logo legally?

If you want to protect your brand identity you have to register a trademark for your company name, logos, and slogans. By using the trademark symbol, you notify other people that products they use are your property. In order to prevent unauthorized use of your mark by third parties, you have to choose a strong one.

Can someone steal my logo?

Logo theft is a violation that occurs when one party steals or uses another party's trademarked logo without their permission. This is a more specific term for trademark infringement, and can take many forms. It typically involves the theft of a trademark or a service mark.

Can a logo be copyrighted and trademark?

To protect your logo, you need a trademark or service mark (trademarks are generally used for products, while service marks are usually applied to services). You should not copyright or patent a logo design.

Who owns the copyright of a logo?

Copyright law provides that the designer of the logo is the first owner, unless it's made by an employee in the course of their employment, in which case the copyright will be owned by the employer. If you employ a designer who creates your new logo, you will own the copyright in it.

Can you be sued for having a similar logo?

That's where logo trademarks come in. Trademark lawsuits are often active in court as a result of similar logo designs. The standard for trademark infringement is based on the likelihood that consumers would confuse the logos and brands because there is not enough to sufficiently differentiate the two.

Can trademark override a copyright?

Does a Trademark Override a Copyright? No, a trademark doesn't override a copyright since they safeguard different types of work. For example, a trademark protects your company's unique identifiers, while a copyright protects creative works. Therefore, only registered works will receive legal benefits and protection.

What can you not trademark?

  • Proper names or likenesses without consent from the person.
  • Generic terms, phrases, or the like.
  • Government symbols or insignia.
  • Vulgar or disparaging words or phrases.
  • The likeness of a U.S. President, former or current.
  • Immoral, deceptive, or scandalous words or symbols.
  • Sounds or short motifs.

Is Mickey Mouse a trademark or copyright?

People can now create their own stories with the original Mickey Mouse character. However, there are still legal hurdles like trademark law. Disney holds Mickey Mouse trademarks for a variety of commercial uses. And while copyright is time-limited, trademarks are not.

Should I trademark name and logo separately?

Most small businesses apply to register their business name and logo as a trade mark. Registering your business name and logo as two separate trade marks will protect your brand. It will also ensure your competitors cannot make unauthorised use of your trade mark, as this would infringe on your registered rights.

Can two companies have the same logo?

Yes, both companies can USE the same trademark to brand the two companies but only ONE company can own that trademark.

How close can a logo be and not be a copyright infringement?

It is true that a logo needs to be different than existing logos to be legally used, but the 20 percent rule -- or 25 percent rule, depending on whom you ask -- is little more than a myth. There is no percentage that is applied to cases like this.

How do I make sure no one steals my logo?

  1. Do a trademark search in USPTO or EUIPO for similar trademarks to make sure yours doesn't conflict with another registered mark.
  2. Complete a trademark application.
  3. Wait and monitor for progress.

How much does trademarking a logo cost?

What Does it Cost to Trademark a Logo? The cost to trademark a logo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is $275–$660 as of June 2020, plus legal fees. You can register a trademark with your state for $50-$150, but federal registration offers a great deal more legal protection.

Does a logo need to be registered?

In the U.S., you don't need to register a trademark or copyright your company's logo. Once you put down the original work on paper or digital media and use it to market your business, you automatically own the rights. However, registering a trademark affords you an extra layer of protection.


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Should logos be trademarked or copyrighted


Comment by Paula Keany

he folks today we're going to be discussing the differences between copyright and Trademark just a quick disclaimer to say that I am NOT an IP professional if you do require intellectual property advice please do seek out professional help so what is copyright copyright is there to protect your original creative works you can't copyright an idea you can copyright things like literary work dramatic works Musical and artistic work as long as they are in a tangible form what do I mean by a tangible form well things like books film recordings websites software photography paintings or graphic design elements like business cards or brochures having the copyright then gives you the exclusive rights to perform distribute make copies of or even make adaptations of your original creative work here in the UK there is no requirement to register your copyright it just happens automatically as soon as the work is created this may be different in your location so please check with your local Copyright Office or intellectual property office to get the full facts on how copyright is assigned in your country protection on copyright generally lasts for the lifetime of the author Plus 70 years again this may be different in your country so please check once you have created your work and the copyright is assigned you then have permission to use that little copyright symbol the little C inside the circle along with the year that the work was created however there is no requirement to use that little C symbol the copyright still remains with you at all times so let's move on to registered marks there are two types of registered marks and both of these can be used to protect the sale of products or services for a business the first is the trademark which is used to protect goods or products and the second is a service mark which you would use to protect services that you provide generally though people tend to use the town trademark to cover both our trademark and the service mark for the purpose of this video I will be using the term registered mark which covers both examples of things that can be covered by a registered mark would be a company name a slogan a sound a color under logo once you have that registered mark you have the exclusive rights to use that mark with your product or service it allows you to stop other companies businesses or organizations from using a similar mark to promote or sell a similar product or service what you can't do is you can't prevent someone from using a similar mark if they are using it to promote or sell a dissimilar product or service let's look at this example of two locals one for Sun Microsystems and the other for Columbia Sportswear now visually these two logos are very similar especially if they were both in black for example and you just had a quick glance at the logos the reason that both of these similar logos can exist and be registered as marks is that there are two completely different industries Sun Microsystems is in software and computing and Columbia is in sportswear two very different industries now however let's say Sun Microsystems were in the spa for businesses while then we would have an issue because they would both have similar marks selling or trading similar products this can't happen so what would happen here is that the company that registered their mark first would be able to prevent the second company from registering the mark which is similar to theirs and in a similar industry in its simplest form registered marks are there to help the consumer differentiate between brands and the products and services that they sell if when you try to register a new mark the internal Property Office will look at existing marks and if they feel that by registering your mark this may cause confusion for the consumer when they are looking to buy a product or service from someone who is in the same industry as you they will deny you that registration once you have registered your mark though you can use the little R symbol inside the circle next to your logo or your brand name unlike copyright registered marks can last indefinitely but they do have to be renewed every 10 years one thing that you cannot do is you cannot register a mark and sit it on a shelf for use at a later date for a registered mark to be viable it must be in constant use so those are the main differences between copyright under registered mark or as I mentioned earlier most people just use the town trademark I hope this cleared up any confusion you may have had in the past about the two terms and you can move forward safe in the knowledge that you have the correct understanding for both for more brand and design advice why not join hundreds of other brand rockers who have signed up to my rock your brand monthly email newsletter it's absolutely free and the advice that I give in there will help you to strengthen your brand and stand out from your competition head on over to rock your brand or quote at UK and sign up until I see you next time folks stay creative


Thanks for your comment Paula Keany, have a nice day.
- Terica Slay, Staff Member


Comment by Demetrius

hello i'm tami shionbare houston-based attorney and host of ask tammy live where we discuss the best ways to establish your business protect your name and keep your profits today's question of the day is is it better to trademark my logo or copyright my logo all right so really the essence of this question is understanding the difference between a copyright and a trademark i'm going to start right there a copyright is a bundle of rights given to someone who has an original work that they've created so that original work can be a book it can be poetry it can be a song it can be a screenplay it can be a movie right but it's something original that someone has created and the really key thing is that they fixed it into some medium so it's not just a random idea you can't copyright an idea it has to be something that you have made tangible by either recording or writing or using some type of device using something to capture it all right so again you can have your songs your books your screenplays your movies all of those have copyrights and the interesting thing about copyrights is that that right is automatic as soon as you create this original work you get this copyright now when you get to the place of registration that's essentially taking the next step and saying i want the united states government to have a record of the fact that i created this original work and then you go through the application process for a copyright to say this thing that i created is an original work and i want to preserve the legacy of my original work and me as the author or the creator of that thing okay so now moving on to trademarks a trademark is about commerce it is about distinguishing the source of a good so something that you can buy or a service something that you do for someone all right so logos business names um slogans those are all things that can be trademarked because when you see certain logos or you hear certain slogans or business names you know the origin so if you hear the word coca-cola you know that that drink came from the coca-cola company all right so again it's identifying the source of a good now the interesting thing about trademarks too is that trademarks can are not limited to logos names and slogans they could even include colors they can include specific shapes about things so the coca-cola bottle actually has a trademark but i'm not going to go any further because that's going to take us down a rabbit hole the question is again should i copyright my logo or trademark my logo well going back to what we just discussed how one is about commerce right and one is about original authorship usually when business people are trying to think about how do i best protect my brand the trademark is going to provide more value to you because the trademark again is how do you distinguish yourself in commerce in business out there in the world whereas a copyright just says i've created this and i want to be recognized as an oh has the original owner um you could decide to do both which is beautiful because that's maximum protection um so let's say for example i was thinking about this earlier and i was thinking about the book series the babies babysitters club and if you were someone like me who when i was younger i read the babysitter's club books um all of them had the same signage on the top of the book that says the babysitter's club as soon as you saw that signage you knew that this was the same book same author same series you understood that they came from the same source but there was someone who designed that signage you know the block letters that were put all together someone drew that out now there's a copyright attached to that image the person who designed it and a trademark i'd connected to the mark as a whole because it's identifying the source of a good or service you can register both of them but they're both separate processes now the one that again protects the brand the most right is the trademark now let's say it's about someone trying to write the book and someone's taking the literal ideas from the page and they're using not just ideas but they're using the same characters so marianne stacy karen all of the members and they're writing a book and the exact same story that's an infringement on someone's copyright because that's their original work does that make sense i hope it does all right so when again i'm advising my clients i usually tell them that if you're focusing on brand protection it's better to go ahead and do the trademark it's more expensive it's more complicated but it provides you rights that really protect you in the area that you're focused in now if you're an author or you're a singer a musician of some form um an artist of some form you definitely want to do your copyrights now one thing i also advise people is sometimes you'll do collections but you know i'm not going to get into that in today's video you're just going to have to stay tuned until the next one um but for now keep those things in mind if you're doing brand protection you're probably going to lean towards the trademark side all right well that's all i have for you today i hope you have a great day and if this video is valuable to you please go ahead and subscribe below and feel free to visit our website www.toslegal.com for more resources every month we release a email that gives more insight about developing your business so please feel free to subscribe to that as well alright i'll catch you on the other side have a great day bye you


Thanks Demetrius your participation is very much appreciated
- Terica Slay


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