Most people already know that it is possible to trademark a logo with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. But, applying to register a logo as a trademark is quite different than simply registering a name or a slogan. In my experience, people who file their own US trademark application tend to make the most (and costliest) mistakes when they attempt to register their logos. Of course, this often leads to the expenditure of additional time and money that would have been completely unnecessary if the application was properly prepared in the first place. Although this is certainly not a comprehensive list of all the things you need to know to successfully trademark a logo, here are a few hints that will help you avoid making some common mistakes.
Final Version of Logo
The first thing you need is the final version of the logo you want to register. It is extremely important that you do not apply to trademark a logo that is only in its development stages because if the appearance of the logo significantly changes after your trademark application is filed, the Trademark Office will not permit you to amend your application to reflect the revised mark. This would leave you with little choice but to file a brand new application and to start the US trademark registration process all over again. So, although you certainly want to apply to register your logo as soon as possible, you should wait until you’re close to 100% sure that the logo you submit to the Trademark Office is the one that you intend to use in connection with the advertising and sale of your products/services.
Color or Black and White?
Before you apply to trademark a logo, you need to decide whether you want to register it in color or in black and white. Although many individuals and businesses choose to register their logos in color, there are a couple of compelling reasons why you should consider applying to register your logo in black and white. First, it is possible that you may end up changing the colors in your logo during the trademark application process or some time after your trademark registration has issued. Should that occur, you will have to seek to amend your trademark application and/or registration so that your logo matches the way in which you’re actually using it in your advertising materials or on your product packaging. If the colors have changed drastically such that it would be considered a “material alteration” of your trademark, the Trademark Office will not allow the amendment. This could seriously jeopardize and call into question the viability of your trademark application or trademark registration. On the other hand, when you apply to trademark a logo in black and white, you can use the logo in any color you want and can make changes to the colors without having to worry about amending your trademark application or registration.
Use of the ® Symbol
Another notable advantage of applying to trademark a logo in black and white is that, once your trademark registration is granted by the Trademark Office, you can use the ® symbol in close proximity to your logo no matter what colors it comprises. In contrast, if you register your logo in color, you can only use the ® designation when your logo is presented in those exact colors. Again, this could be detrimental if you vary the color of your logo on a regular basis or do a lot of printing in plain back and white.
Trademark Application Requirements
On the USPTO trademark application form, you will be asked to provide a textual description of your logo. This description must be quite detailed and address all of the features of your logo. Furthermore, if you decide to apply to register your logo in color, you will also need to claim color as a feature of the trademark and add as part of your description the colors that are incorporated and where they’re located. The more complex, intricate, and colorful your logo is, the longer your description is likely to be. You will also be asked to upload a copy of your logo in a size and format that conforms to the Trademark Office’s rules.
If you have any questions about how to trademark a logo, or would like some assistance federally registering your logo as a trademark, please feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email. As a US trademark attorney, I’m here to help in any way I can.