Trademark your logo

Understanding the criteria to successfully trademark your logo design

When starting a new business, you’ll want to trademark your logo to be sure that no one can copy the signature look and style of your brand. Registering your logo for a trademark is the best form of protection for your designs; but what exactly can you trademark?

What can you trademark?

Many forms of creative work can be given a registered trademark; a word, phrase, combination of words, logos, symbols, or corporate colours. In essence, any graphical representation that identifies and distinguishes your business as the unique source of a certain product or service can be protected.

As trademarking takes into account many creative strands, it is much more than just simply applying to secure your business name. If you trademark your logo and the words and style you use with it, you may be defending the signature look that your company could one day become well-known for.

The rule when looking to trademark your logo

In order for your creative work to be eligible for trademark registration, it must be distinct to your business, and not descriptive of what you do. You can trademark your logo, distinctive names and slogans, as they are inherently associated with your company alone.

Ok, so what can be trademarked?

  • Unique or made-up words – called “fanciful marks”, these words are created specifically for your product and may become strong trademarks over time. (BigMac, Slim-Fast, Kleenex)
  • Arbitrary marks – words that must be included in reference to the goods being sold, but contribute no meaning to them (Apple for computers, Coca-Cola’s name and lettering)
  • A logo, symbol, stamp, icon, font style which is unique to your business and could speak for your company with no text alone.

What can’t be trademarked?

Terms that describe a feature of the product, someone’s name or a geographical location generally do not qualify for protection.

For example, you could not trademark the phrase “Toys Direct” or “Tasty Snacks” because this describes what the business does. If the word is part of everyday vocabulary, and could apply to a range of businesses, then it does not qualify.

In addition:

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  • Marks confusingly similar to existing marks; in spelling, sound or appearance. E.g. a distribution company called Amazan.
  • Weak marks that have not achieved prominent meaning e.g. Sally’s Bar
  • Marks no longer in use

Trademarking something unique to your company early on may help to protect your business later down the line. Imagine investing in professional logo design, but failing to trademark your creative, and later being told you needed to change your logo, product names, URL… it would undermine the strength of the brand you had worked hard to establish for your business.

Click here to learn how to avoid infringing upon someone else’s trademark


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