We’ve been asked this question numerous times so here I will attempt to provide you some basic information regarding trademarks. It’s important to note that I am not providing legal advice. For legal advice or information about your particular situation, please reach out to a qualified attorney with experience in trademark law.
1. First thing first. What is a trademark?
A trademark is “any word, slogan, symbol, design, or combination of these that: 1) identifies the source of your goods and services, and 2) distinguishes them from the goods and services of another party.”
2. Benefits of a Trademark:
Is there any real value in a trademark? Yes.
Federally Registered trademarks receive the following benefits:
Once again, we at EvenVision are not providing legal advice and so we will leave the following as direct quotes from the USPTO basics video (link found down below).
Legal presumption that owner of mark
Legal presumption of exclusive right to use mark
Puts public on notice of ownership of mark
Mark listed on USPTO database
3. How do I register my logo as a Trademark?
So the benefits seem enticing, but how do you actually register a trademark? Well, it’s important to note that there is a two-tier system within the United States for registering a trademark: Federal and State. Because there is so much information about registering trademarks available, we will only be covering Federally Registered Trademarks.
4. Trademark applications can be denied.
The most basic reason a trademark application may be denied by the USPTO is based on the principle called “likelihood of confusion.” Defined below:
“likelihood of confusion between the mark in your application and a mark registered from another party.”
Here are some of the things which may be red flags for the USPTO with regards to the likelihood of confusion:
5. Inherent strength of a Trademark
Not all logos or marks are created equally, this not only has to do with the quality of their design work but also with the selection of the name. Some are indeed stronger than others, and for trademark purposes, this is an important aspect to note because the strength of a mark determines how easy it is to protect.
USPTO notes these distinct levels of strength, listed from weakest to strongest: These are pulled directly from their video regarding the basics of trademarks:
6. Do your research
Once again, filing for a trademark does not mean that you are guaranteed a trademark, nor are you able to be refunded your filing fee. Therefore, no matter what size your organization is, it’s important to spend the time in researching whether or not there is already a trademark registered that would prevent your application from being accepted.
USPTO calls this process the Trademark Clearance Search and recommends the following steps:
7. Enforcing your Trademark Rights
You are responsible for policing your trademark. If another organization infringes upon your registered trademark rights, the federal or state organizations that they are registered through will not do anything unless you initiate an action against the organization that is infringing upon your rights. That said, the USPTO will not allow a company to trademark a similar mark or logo, so there is at least some level of automated policing occurring.
To sum things up:
Should I trademark my Logo? Totally. There are some serious benefits if your business or organization plans to exist for a long duration and expand.
But the process can be long, hard and possibly expensive. You have to be smart about what you're trying to trademark and be careful about the help you acquire. Furthermore, trademarking your logo isn’t simply a one-shot process, but requires careful diligence overtime to make sure your mark is protected.