Is a Logo Protected under Trademark Law
The legal protection of a logo depends on what type of design it is, which elements are included in the logo, and how well those elements are protected. For example, if you create a logo for your company that contains several distinctive shapes or letters, each of those items may be considered an element and may require separate protection.
Do you have to Register your Logo with the USPTO?
You do not have to register your logo with the USPTO. In fact, you don't have to register your logo anywhere. You can protect your logo under trademark law without registering it. You can also protect your intellectual property against copyright infringement using a Notice of Copyright Infringement (for images) or Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice (for text).
The Importance of Including a Trademark
One of the main reasons why businesses spend money to develop a logo is because they know it can be protected under trademark law. The importance of including a trademark in your logo design cannot be overstated.
Trademark laws protect logos and any other signs that are associated with a business. These include words, names, or symbols used to identify the source of goods or services sold by one party from those sold by another party.
In other words, if you have registered your logo as a trademark, anyone who uses that same graphic design for their own company's products could potentially get sued for copyright infringement (which we'll talk about later).
Protecting your Logo Design under Copyright Law
Copyright law protects original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, and musical works; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works. The copyright laws in the United States are found in Title 17 of the United States Code.
Copyright protection is available for original logos that possess a sufficient amount of creativity. This means that if you create an original logo design, it can be copyrighted so long as it meets the following criteria:
- It must be a work of authorship that is sufficiently creative to merit its own protection
- You must be the author (or have obtained permission from someone who is)
Does a Trademark Protect an Entire Logo?
The answer is no. Trademark law protects an entire logo, not individual elements of the logo. For example, if you were to create a logo with a specific font or color and then use that same font or color in every letterhead you created, this would not be covered by trademark law.
The only time when a trademark lawyer would be concerned about your specific logotype is if it’s similar enough to another brand so as to confuse consumers into thinking they are buying from another business instead of yours.
A logo's protection depends on its elements and how well they are protected. A logo can be protected under both trademark law and copyright law, but most often it is protected by trademark law because it does not usually include any original artwork.
A logo may be copyrighted if it has some artistic element to it, like a design or illustration. This would make the logo ineligible for trademark registration and therefore unable to prevent someone from using the same or similar design for their own business purposes.
A logo is a powerful tool for branding your company and making it recognizable in the market. It also needs to be protected from misuse by others, for it to retain its value. A trademark protects your logo design, but you need to file an application with the USPTO so that your mark can be registered for use on goods or services. You can also register your design under copyright law if you want to protect all its elements individually instead of just one aspect such as colors or shapes.