Last Updated on September 28, 2023
Are you a start-up business looking for ways to copyright and trademark your brand’s logo? Or are you someone who’s just curious about copyright law? Whatever the case, we’re about to make your life a whole lot easier.
This article will explore ways and techniques of copyrighting and trademarking a logo. We will also introduce you to the infamous copyright law and how it’s so important for any brand or business.
What is Copyright?
According to Merriam-Webster:
‘Copyright is the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (such as a literary, musical, or artistic work).’
What is USA Copyright Law?
The USA states that Copyright is a kind of protection that American laws offer. It grants original works of authorship to the creator or owner.
‘An original work of authorship is a work that is independently created by a human author and possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity. A work is “fixed” when it is captured (either by or under the authority of an author) in a sufficiently permanent medium such that the work can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated for more than a short time. Copyright protection in the United States exists automatically from the moment the original work of authorship is fixed.’
Source: Copyright Basics
What are some common copyright examples?
There’s a broad range of things one can apply copyright – for as long as the work is original and shows ‘a minimum of creativity’. One can copyright music, art, literature, photos, as well as architecture design, programming code, and technical plans.
What is a Trademark?
According to Merriam-Webster:
‘Trademark is a device (such as a word) pointing distinctly to the origin or ownership of merchandise to which it is applied and legally reserved to the exclusive use of the owner as maker or seller.’
Why Use Copyright?
Creativity is subject to theft, isn’t it? Whether it’s in the form of writing, art, or a design – anything you put on the internet becomes public domain, and the netizens are free to manipulate your property the way they please.
No matter how much evidence you have to claim your creation, there’s no way you can legally prove it. That is unless you have a copyright or trademark.
With copyrights or trademarks, you have the right to claim your intellectual property against copyright infringement.
What is the most common type of copyright infringement?
Image and text copyright infringements are the most prevalent forms of copyright violation.
Why Use Trademark?
Trademarking is essential for most businesses. Trademarking allows you to protect the integrity and archetype of products that your brand manufactures. It also allows you to market your goods distinctively that no other brand can copy.
If you want to prevent your business from merging with another one and wish to remain its sole owner, go for a trademark for your brand.
What are some examples of trademarks?
Aside from words, phrases, and slogans, trademarks can be symbols, logos, or even stylized fonts, shapes, as well as fictional characters. There are all kinds of trademarks that you encounter all the time yet may be unaware of.
A few trademarks you’ll instantly recognize is Apple and its products, such as the iPod. There’s also McDonald’s and their famous Big Mac. The color purple (Pantone Color PMS 2685C) from the beloved Cadbury Egg is trademarked. The signature Tiffany & Co. gift box (which includes the company name and shape) is also protected under trademark laws.
Copyrights Vs. Trademarks
Copyrights pertain to protecting intellectual or creative property, such as a painting or song. Trademarks are similar to copyrights but offer a broader range of protection.
They are used to protect the manufacturing goods or products from a particular brand. These goods or products can be in the form of dramatic works, literary works, cinematic works, fashion products, etc.
A trademark will also extend its protection to slogans and taglines. For example, Nike has opted for the ‘just do it’ slogan, and by doing so, it has restricted any other brand from choosing or mimicking this slogan for their brand.
Highly exquisite, rare, and attention-worthy logos would demand both copyright and trademark to remain protected from theft.
Trademarks are to be renewed every decade, whereas a copyright’s life is up to 70 years or even a lifetime.
How to Create a Copyright Notice
1. Design/Purchase a Unique Logo
You want to make sure your logo is memorable and diverse, something out of the ordinary. That’s because even though creativity is subject to copyright protection – colors and names aren’t and can be easily replicated.
Your logo will be the face of your brand or business, so try to be as creative as possible. When you’re taking inspiration for your logo, you must remain conscious that you are not allowed to mimic other people’s logo designs and patterns.
2. Add The Copyright Symbol
Affix the symbol next to your logo. Some people prefer writing copyright or © next to their logo instead.
3. Add The Publication Date
You may add the publication date of your logo next to it. For example, if you developed your logo in 2022, simply affix 2022 somewhere near your logo.
4. Identify The Copyright Holder
The original creator of the logo owns the copyright to it by default. If you have purchased a logo, you will need its rights transferred to you. The next step is to register your logo.
How to Register Your Logo for Copyrights
1. Apply Online
You can easily apply online at the US Copyrights office. It’s cheap and quick. However, you will have to make an advance payment using your debit or credit card and upload your logo artwork as well.
2. Paper Application
Download the application form here and print it.
3. Time to Mail it!
You can submit your application via electronic mail or dispatch it via a courier service. Just mail the copy of your application and deposit copy to U.S. Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20559.
Remember, only one deposit copy is required if your logo hasn’t been published. Two if it has been published.
4. Receive Your Copyright Certificate
If you apply online, it takes up to two months for a copyright certificate to arrive. It would take longer if you submitted a draft via courier.
How to Trademark Your Logo
Trademarking offers a wider and more robust scope of protection, not just for your logo but the entire brand. Trademarks are preferred over copyrights because they can better shield your ideas and products against infringement.
1. Visit the USPTO website
File your application using their online portal called Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).
2. Fill the Details Accurately
Any bias or incorrect information can cause delay or rejection of your application.
3. Receive a Text Message from USPTO
This will inform you about the estimated time of arrival for your application approval. It would usually take 3-5 months to process your application and gain approval.
You may also track your progress on their portal easily.
Advantages of Trademark Over Copyright
- Trademarks aware the public of your territory and property. It forms a robust shield around your creative hub and makes competitors wary of your authority and your progress.
- You can sue brands for infringement in federal court if your brand is legally trademarked.
- Offers rapid registration and approval.
- USPTO has the right to reject applications that they may find eerily similar to your logo once you have it trademarked.
- You have access to the international market, thanks to the Madrid Protocol
- State trademarks processes are cheaper and faster than USPTO
A stunning logo is every brand’s voice. It is a distinct face in the midst of a thousand other businesses in its competition. To stand out, you must remain unique and singular in nature. This can be achieved by copyrighting and trademarking your logo.