How To Trademark Your Logo In Nine Steps

Trademarks not only help to prevent others from using your logo, but they also serve as a symbol of quality and credibility for your business. In this post, we will walk you through the process of trademarking your logo, from conducting a trademark search to filing a trademark application and everything in between.

The Importance Of Trademarks

In 2021 alone, there were approximately 13.9 million trademark applications. This shows how important it’s to preserve your brand identity 

Your company’s logo is perhaps one of the most important brand assets you can have as a business. That’s because it’s how your customers or others can immediately recognize your brand. 

For example, if you see a bitten apple on a product, you immediately know it’s an Apple product.

In this article, we’ll explain what a trademark is, why you should protect your logo, and how to do it in nine effective steps.

Name First, Logo Second!

Your business name is the first thing you should create. You can use our business name generator if you need help coming up with interesting and unique name ideas. 

What Is A Trademark?

A trademark is an official authorization to own a specific logo, symbol, word, or name that exclusively represents your business or brand.

It’s a way to protect yourself legally because a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use your logo. No other business is allowed to use that logo or a design similar to yours. Whether you hire a professional designer or use a logo maker, you can still trademark your logo.

Many people also make the mistake of confusing the term ‘trademark’ with ‘copyright.” The main difference is that copyright focuses on protecting content such as images, movies, books, and similar materials, while a trademark protects brand assets.

How to trademark a logo

When Should I Trademark My Logo?

If you’re considering a trademark, we recommend that you start the process immediately after filing your business paperwork. That way, you’ll have ownership rights before you even launch your business. It also ensures that your company’s logo is protected immediately when you start generating sales or profits 

However, we recommend you finalize your brand assets because if you get a trademark for a logo and plan to change your brand in the future, you’ll need another trademark for the new logo.

Trademarks usually last 10 years. So when it expires, you’ll need to renew your application.

It’s important to trademark your logo as a business because;

  • You can legally prevent anyone from using your intellectual property in the future. If you don’t trademark it, others have the right to use it for their business as well.
  • It increases the recognition of your brand because if you’re the only business that uses it, it instantly becomes a distinctive mark for your brand.
  • It helps keep copycats and imposters away from your brand – they can’t sway your customers by impersonating you.
  • You can sue anyone or any business that reuses the logo without your permission.
  • If a company infringes your trademark protection, they can pay you damages if they don’t want to go to court.
  • If you have a trademark, it’s easier to extend it to other countries – especially in the US.
Benefits of trademark

Now that you know how beneficial it is to trademark your logo, let’s look at all the steps you need to take to actually trademark your logo.

1. Be Sure You Can Get A Trademark

First of all, not every company needs a logo trademark. Since it requires a lot of effort and resources, you should be sure that you can afford to have your logo trademarked. 

If you’re a small business owner just starting out, we recommend taking advantage of the limited protection that common law offers.

However, if you’re still interested in the benefits of a trademark – especially if you hope to become a nationwide business – you need to be sure your logo meets the trademarking requirements. 

Should I trademark

For example, a trademark isn’t awarded for a generic logo design like a green apple. It’s not specific and doesn’t meet the definition of a logo – a distinctive, unique concept defined by your brand values.

You should also make sure you don’t spread offensive imagery with your logo. If you do, that’s instant grounds for rejection. It shouldn’t be a confusing logo either. People should be able to easily understand what you’re promoting with this image. 

So if your logo isn’t up to par, you might want to revise it before applying. If you’re a new company, this will also save you a lot of resources that you’d probably spend on rebranding in the future.

Pro Tips

– If you don’t already have a brand name for your business name, we recommend you do this first.
– We recommend hiring a designer to get your logo right from the start.

2. Decide Where You Want To Trademark Your Logo

The nature of your business will determine the type of trademark you want to apply for. It also depends on the place or region where you want to protect your logo. 

For example, if you file for a state trademark, you’ll only get trademark protection in the state where you filed. So it’s ideal for small or local businesses that don’t plan to expand.

However, if you’re running an online business, it’s advisable to file a federal trademark because, over time, you’ll be making deliveries across state lines. So you’d own the trademark nationwide.

There are also international businesses that need to file an international trademark. Fortunately, there are numerous international agreements that simplify this process. 

Trademark location

For example, filing with the Benelux authorities grants you trademark protection in three countries – Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The Madrid Agreement, on the other hand, gives you protection in 113 countries, including the EU.

We, therefore, recommend that you do thorough research before filing. First, familiarize yourself with the rules of the agreement and find out in which regions your logo is protected 

We also recommend starting with a US trademark. This will strengthen your brand and make international trademark registrations easier.

Pro Tips

– Research international trademark agreements to find out which one best suits your business.
– Talk to a trademark attorney to learn more about which option is best for your business.

3. Hire A Trademark Attorney

Not all applications require an attorney, but it’s always safer to hire a trademark attorney during the application process.

If your business isn’t based in the U.S., you must be represented by a U.S. trademark attorney. And if you’re based in the U.S., you need an attorney to guide you through the application process. So you need one either way.

In addition to providing legal advice on filing, such as what type of trademark you should file, they can also help you with the trademark search, which we’ll discuss in the next step.

Trademark attorney

A trademark attorney is also helpful in making sure you’re using your trademark rights and will help you take action against companies that try to infringe on those rights. 

If your trademark application is denied, you may have to file an opposition. During this time, your attorney can represent you and appeal to the board. 

To hire a trademark attorney, you must make sure that you’re hiring a lawfully licensed attorney. To do this, you can contact the Attorney Referral Service of any U.S. state.

Pro Tips

– Always hire a U.S. licensed trademark attorney, especially when applying for a trademark at the USPTO.
– You can receive discounted legal services by joining the International Trademark Association’s Pro Bono Pilot Program.

4. Conduct A Trademark Search

Once you’ve completed the preliminary steps, it’s time to do what we call ‘the sweep.” Your trademark search is an investigation to find out if someone else is already using your logo.

This is because if another company has the exact same logo or a similar one, your trademark application will automatically be rejected. This can mean similar colors, similar drawings, or even shapes.

Luckily, you don’t have to go through all the company listings in the world to find out who has a similar logo to yours. You just need to run a check against the Trademark Electronic Search System – also known as TESS – to find out which logos are already registered.

Trademark search

Here you can see the trademark registrations that are similar to your logo, those that have been used for products related to your brand, and those that are already active. If there is an existing trademark that meets all three points, your application will be rejected.

We recommend going through this step with your trademark attorney as well. Attorneys have a lot more experience in this field.

Also, the USPTO website advises doing this because knowing what to look for and interpreting the results can be complicated. An attorney, on the other hand, can spot similarities right away that you normally wouldn’t. Plus, they are more efficient with the whole process.

Pro Tips

– In addition to TESS, you should check other sources like the PTRC to be sure.
– Check U.S. registration certificates for similar logos and owner’s claims.

5. Use The Trademark Across Your Brand 

In your application, you’d have to show that the logo belongs to your company. Your brand identity and guidelines explaining why you chose that particular logo are helpful, but you need additional references. 

The quickest way to do this is to actually use your logo in your business. Use your logo on your website, social media, promotional items, campaigns, and more. This also applies to packaged goods if you sell physical or digital products.

Use your logo

Also, since it takes months to get your trademark approved, you need to secure the logo and make it yours. Once you use it, it becomes recognizable and associated with your brand. 

It also discourages other brands from using a similar logo because they already know you’re using it, and it could affect their trademark application.

Pro Tips

– Once you have applied for a trademark, you can use the ™ symbol in your logo – even without a response.
– Make sure you have a consistent brand look and feel.

6. Get The Information Required For Your Application

Among the details you need to provide are the details of whoever is applying for the trademark. In your case, it must be your company. So have your registered company name, address, and contact information ready.

You also need to accurately list the products and services that your logo will represent. For example, if you’re a design agency, you need to list all the design services you offer. If you sell products, you need to highlight those as well. Remember that you need to choose a category for these goods and services.

Information for application

After that, you need to add an image of the final version of the logo. It can be black and white or colored. If it’s colored, you need to describe what colors are used and where you’ll use them.

Also, you need to show how the image of the logo would look on your product (if any). This is called a specimen.

Here is a summary of the list

  • Details about your company – name, address and contact information
  • A list of the products and services you want your logo to represent
  • A JPEG of the final version of your logo
  • A specimen – a JPG of how it’ll look on commercial products

Pro Tips

– If you make changes to the color of your logo, you have to change your trademark.
– It’s better to submit a black-and-white version if you plan to change the colors – this way, you’ll not have to submit another trademark later on.

7. File Your Trademark Application

Once you have all the details, it’s time to file the actual trademark application. Remember that you should do this together with your trademark attorney. To file your application;

  • Visit the USPTO’s electronic trademark application system and fill out the form.
  • Once you have completed the form, upload your logo as a file
  • Fill out the ‘intent-to-use’ form – this tells where and how your logo will be used
  • Once you have completed the form, you’ll pay all required fees to complete your application
File your application

Typically, the trademark application, along with other fees, costs about $350 for each class. Once you have submitted your application, you can check its status in TSDR (trademark status and document retrieval).

Usually, it takes about 5-7 days to receive an update. However, it can take up to months if your application contains errors. Therefore, we advise you to discuss this with your trademark attorney.

Pro Tips

– If you change the intent of your logo over time, you must submit a new intent form.
– You must know what your filing basis is because you must select more than one.

8. Be Prepared To Respond To Any Problems With Your Application

The standard procedure for obtaining a trademark is to have your application examined. This includes a search to make sure there are no logos similar to yours. If it meets all the requirements, it’s approved for publication.

There is also a waiting period to make sure no one objects to the trademark. If there are no oppositions, the trademark is registered and you can use the ® symbol in your logo. 

Respond

However, there is always the possibility that there will be a problem with your application. It could be errors in the application, similarities with another logo, or pretty much anything else. In this case, you’ll receive a response from the Trademark Office describing the details of the problem with your application. 

Now you have to send a response showing that you don’t have any of the problems listed. You even have the possibility to fix these problems. But you must send this response within three months. 

At this stage, you need your lawyer, because sometimes you may have to appeal.

Pro Tips

– If minor changes are needed, the attorney in charge of your application will contact you by phone or email.
– If you don’t respond within the three-month period, your application will be considered invalid.

9. Set Up A Regular Trademark Watch

Once you have your trademark approved, we recommend that you set up trademark watch. With a trademark watch, you simply make sure that no one is using your trademark. It’s not mandatory, but it’s a good option to protect your trademark from infringement. 

Trademark watch

To set up your trademark monitoring, simply contact your trademark attorney. They’ll monitor infringements on an ongoing basis. Usually, this will allow you to spot potential fraud or similar results.

Pro Tips

– You also have the option to hire a trademark monitoring service if you don’t want an attorney.
– Set up multiple services so that you can cover all areas.

Conclusion

Trademarking your logo is very beneficial for your business because it strengthens your brand and keeps away the imitators. 

Even though you can easily file online through the USPTO’s website, involving an attorney is an important step. Not only can they give you legal advice, but they can also make sure that your application is error-free 

We also recommend that you trademark your business name if you haven’t already. Your brand name is also a very strong brand asset that you should protect.

Author

Matija

Matija

Amazing content is the core of what we do. With more than 5 years of experience in branding, name development, and business, Matija helps create and manage content production.

Show all posts from

We use cookies to offer you our service. By using this site, you agree to our: See cookie policy