The Nike swoosh, Mercedes’ three-point star and McDonald’s golden arches are a big part of the respective company’s identity and customer perceptions. Your company logo is no exception. You have probably invested a lot of work, creativity and money to design a distinctive and memorable logo for your business, so you should definitely take steps to protect your newly created intellectual property and add the small ™ trademark heading symbol next to it.
This Crazy Egg guide describes step-by-step how to trademark a logo with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Why branding a logo is worth it
When you drink coffee from a Starbucks cup, you have very specific expectations for the drink based on your previous experience with and perception of the Starbucks brand.
Of course, Starbucks wants to protect its brand reputation by forbidding anyone to use its logo, name and brand to market its own products. The same logic applies to your company logo.
Trademarks protect names, words, symbols, colors, and sounds to distinguish the products of one particular company from another. When you trademark your logo, you have the right to exclude others from using a logo that is similar to yours and that may confuse consumers.
When you register a trademark with the USPTO, you get the following rights and protection:
The right to take action against alleged trademark infringement before the Federal Court Public notice of your trademark registration You legally own the trademark and have the exclusive right to use it with the registered goods or products The right to register your trademarks in other countries The right to block the incorporation of foreign goods that infringes on your trademark
In short, that trademark a logo is a very public announcement that you own a particular trademark and have legal protection to exercise that ownership. No one can use your logo without your permission.
Moreover, consumers do not overlook this detail either. They recognize a trademark symbol and respect a business owner’s pride in protecting their small business and its reputation.
The investment is necessary to brand a logo
Depending on the application class, the USPTO charges $ 250- $ 350 plus attorney’s fees for trademarking a logo. You can register a trademark with your state for only $ 50- $ 150, but federal registration provides more comprehensive legal protection, which given the importance of a logo is a worthwhile investment.
The USPTO offers different forms of fees, each with different prices. If you file online through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), you can choose between two options:
TEAS Plus for $ 250 TEAS Standard for $ 350
Note: You may have to pay additional fees based on your intent, which may add $ 100- $ 125 per person. Grade.
Have you already submitted a trademark for your logo? Excellent! Next, you need to preserve your brand. The cost of maintaining your trademark under the USPTO is as follows:
Submission of Statement of Use after 5 years (Section 8 Statement): $ 225 per. Class (if filed before the repayment period) Submission of statement of use after 5 years (section 8 statement) combined with statement of incontestability (section 15 statement): $ 425 per. Class (if filed before grace period) Submission of statement of use and application for renewal every 10 years (Combined Section 8 Statement and Section 9 Renewal): $ 525 per class. class (if submitted before the grace period) Submission of Incontestability Statement (Section 15 Statement): $ 200 per class
If you do not want to sign up for a trademark on your own, many companies hire an online legal service or a lawyer to get their logo trademarked. If so, you pay between $ 500 and $ 2,000 to file a federal trademark application.
6 steps to trademark a logo
Let us review all the steps involved in trademarking a logo and protecting your intellectual property rights.
Step 1 – Make sure your logo meets USPTO guidelines
Any logo submitted for trademark may not already be in use by a previous applicant. It should also not look like an existing brand too much.
To avoid rejection, you should check the USPTO’s online trademark database, Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), to cross-check whether your logo is truly unique.
According to the USPTO, the “likelihood of confusion” with another company is one of the most common reasons for rejecting a trademark logo petition. Here is a statement from the USPTO:
“One of the most common reasons for refusing registration is that there is a ‘likelihood of confusion’ between the mark in the application and a previously registered mark or a pending application with an earlier filing date owned by another party. There is a likelihood of confusion between trademarks when the marks are so similar and the goods and / or services they are used for are so related that consumers would mistakenly believe that they come from the same source.
The USPTO rejects any application with offensive content. This means no obscenities or rough drawings.
The Agency also rejects any petition that it finds misleading. For example, if the USPTO believes that a logo does not really represent the type of product it claims to sell – or it suggests a completely different kind of item – it will reject this application.
This makes sense given that the USPTO is there to protect the rights of the business owner and ensure the best possible consumer experience.
Step # 2 – Prepare your trademark application
The USPTO’s trademark for next-generation ID manual allows people to search for acceptable identification of their goods and services. Follow the instructions to prepare your written description of your logo and the goods and services on which it will be applied. In addition, you must create a drawing of your logo using the USPTO’s specified size and format.
An application may include the requirement to register the logo in one or more classifications of goods or services, all details of the classification system being available on the USPTO Trademark Website. You can also submit separate applications for each class. Remember that you have to pay fees for each class of goods or services. You must submit a “sample” showing your logo in actual use on the described goods or services. For example, you can include a photograph of the logo on a product or a screenshot of the logo when advertising your services. If you have not used your logo on merchandise, you can still file an Intent to Use application. This confirms that you have an “intention to use” logo as described, allowing you to have your products or services on the market with the logo for three or more years before your application is rejected for non-use. You will have to pay additional fees to complete an ITU application.
Different rules apply to applications for U.S. registration of trademarks already registered in other countries. In that case, it is best to hire a trademark attorney to ensure that your application is not rejected.
Step # 3 – Submit an application to the USPTO
You can start using your logo once you have approval for use at the federal level. Alternatively, you can register it in one or more states for limited rights.
But if you want more comprehensive rights nationwide, apply to the USPTO. There are several ways you can do this:
Use TEAS to prepare and submit your application online. This method allows you to check your application for completeness before submitting, and provides an email summary of the application with a serial number. You can use the serial number to track the progress of your application. Send your application by mail to the Commissioner of Trademarks, PO Box 1451, Alexandria, VA 22313-1451. You will receive a receipt and serial number two to three weeks after you submit it. Submit your application manually or by courier to the Trademark Assistance Center, Madison East, Concourse Level Room C 55, at 600 Dulany Street in Alexandria. You will receive a time-stamped receipt and an application serial number.
Step # 4 – Wait for the USPTO’s response
At this time, you have submitted a trademark application and received an acknowledgment of receipt. The next step is to follow up on your application for the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) database.
Generally, the USPTO takes about 3-4 months to respond, but it may take longer. The entire trademark application process takes six months to a year and in some cases even longer.
Wonder why it takes so long?
The USPTO reviews your application manually to verify that you meet the basic application requirements, after which it forwards your application to an investigating attorney. If there is something wrong with your application, the agency will notify you.
The investigating attorney carefully examines all elements of your application to determine if you meet all the legal and procedural requirements of a viable petition. They double-check for redundant trademarks and whether you have classified your product correctly and submitted a suitable logo copy.
The lawyer also checks if you have included the correct fees.
As you may have guessed, the investigative lawyer is the ultimate authority that decides whether your logo will be registered. If there are minor issues with your application, the attorney will contact you via email or phone. However, if the concerns are more prominent, you will receive a letter called an Office Action describing the reasons for the rejection.
Step # 5 – Correct application errors
USPTO lets you fix any application issues. However, if your petition was rejected due to a serious error in your logo or similarity to an existing trademark or application, you will need to file a new application.
If you receive an Office document, you have six months from the date of dispatch to submit the desired corrections. Otherwise, the USPTO will mark your application as abandoned.
If your submission still does not satisfy the investigating attorney, you will receive a final denial of your application. You can appeal this refusal to the Trademark and Appeals Board (TTAB) if you wish, but you will have to pay additional fees for this.
If the investigating lawyer approves your application, your logo will be published in the Official Gazette, indicating that your logo is a soon to be registered trademark. If anyone believes your registration could harm their business, they have 30 days to file a complaint with the USPTO.
If all goes well and no one complains, your logo will officially become a federally registered trademark giving you all the rights and protections we discussed before.
Step # 6 – Preserve your trademark rights
After registration comes maintenance.
To maintain your protected status, you must submit a trademark declaration of continued use and a trademark renewal to the USPTO every five years. If you do not file this renewal, you still have a six-month grace period to file. However, if you fail to submit these forms completely, the USPTO will consider your logo as abandoned, which means you will lose all of your legal intellectual property rights.
As long as the logo remains in commercial use, you can renew your trademark as many times as you want. However, if your registration renewal fails, you may need to repeat the entire registration process.
You can enforce your trademark protections against any infringement when the USPTO registers your logo.
Companies deal with a so-called trademark check to ensure that no other companies misuse their logo or use it without their permission. They protect against misuse of their logos and potential applications to the USPTO for compatible logos.
Keeping an eye on trademark infringement and enforcing your rights under trademark protection if you find an infringement is always a good idea.
With a logo brand in place, you can focus on other aspects of running a business. Here are a few Crazy Egg guides to help you reach your business goals: