Protecting Your Business Logo 01/03/2012
Creating a business logo is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner to build brand awareness. Logos, such as, Target’s “Bullseye,” McDonalds’ “Golden Arches,” or Apple’s “Apple” are instantly recognized for the specific goods or services the respective companies provide. Strong brand recognition allows you, as a business owner, to market your goods or services effectively and to build a loyal customer following. Therefore, it is critical that small businesses get trademark protection for their logo, in addition to their business name.
Business names usually come under the category of a “standard character mark” which consist of words, numbers, common forms of punctuation, or combinations any of these elements without any stylized elements. Logos come under the category of “stylized mark” which include two or three-dimensional design, color, or words, letters, or numbers in a stylized form. For example, a word mark is the word Apple and a stylized mark is the Apple logo.
Generally, the USPTO requires that different elements of your mark be filed separately, i.e., a separate application for a standard character mark and a stylized mark. However, a logo, which also incorporates the business name, can be filed in one trademark application. Although this may reduce filings costs, to obtain the broadest protection for your brand, it is recommended to file separately. Separate filings protect the mark itself and not just the stylized aspect of the mark, giving you more freedom on how you use your mark.
When contemplating whether to trademark the logo or business name, it is best to consider both short-term and long-term goals of your company, including corporate structure, market position, and funding goals. Ask yourself whether changing your business name a year from now would impact the success of your business.
Once the trademark application is filed, the USPTO permits you to use the TM sign next to your logo. Once the application is approved you may then use ® and actively protect your trademark.