If you own a business, chances are you have some type of logo representing your business. Are you wondering whether you should get a trademark for this logo and if so, when the best time to get this trademark?
When Should I Trademark My Logo?
The simple answer to when you should trademark your logo is that you should trademark it as soon as you have confirmed a final design for your logo. Getting the earliest filing date possible can be very important down the line to ensure your legal rights. This is because legal rights may hinge on the earliest date that a trademark application for the logo is filed.
The truth is, if you plan on using your logo in commerce, you should look into getting a federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Obtaining a trademark is typically a good idea and a smart investment to make sure you preserve your legal rights to that logo and can preclude others from using it in connection with their business.
Timing for Trademarking Your Logo
The date you file your trademark application with the USPTO is called your priority date. This means that even if it takes a few months to obtain approval for your trademark from the USPTO, your priority will still date back to the date you filed your application rather than the date you obtained the trademark registration.
This is why it is so important to get your trademark application in as soon as you possibly can.
Trademark rights will not hinge solely on the date you first use your logo in commerce. This means that if you have been using your logo for years but wait to pursue trademark registration with the USPTO for a few years, you risk the chance that someone else will come in and file a trademark application for your logo. While you might be able to succeed in opposing or canceling their trademark – this is a very expensive proposition that can be avoided by simply filing your logo earlier.
The Importance of Your Priority Date
The extent and legitimacy of your trademark rights hinge on your trademark’s priority date. Once you file your trademark application for your logo and obtain your priority date, you will be placed in the trademark queue with the USPTO.
The time you file your trademark corresponds to when your trademark will be returned in trademark searches that may be conducted by competitors who are looking to register similar logos for similar businesses.
Moreover, the timing of your trademark application and priority date allows you to enforce your trademark rights against any infringers.
This means that if a competitor begins using your logo in commerce after you file, you will be able to pursue legal action against them so long as you have a superior priority date. This typically starts with seeking legal advice and getting an intellectual property attorney to consider the pros and cons of sending a cease and desist letter.
However, it also means you can seek litigation in federal court should the cease and desist negotiations not work out.
Why Should I Trademark My Logo?
Logos can be a vital component for any business, and the intellectual property within those logos can be very important to protect. This is because of the following:
- Logos are often how people identify your business, goods, or services. This can be especially true for brick and mortar businesses who use logos as a way to attract customers and keep them coming back.
- Logos are important for businesses that sell items that include this logo on the merchandise. This is essentially free advertising for your business.
- Logos can be essential for online businesses as a vital way to build your business’ brand recognition.
Registering for a trademark with the USPTO will ensure you have priority rights over your logo should a competitor try to use your logo or something similar. Of note, of course, your logo will be protected by some legal rights called common law rights even if you don’t file for trademark registration.
However, these common law rights only protect you against infringement in your specific geographic region. Federal trademark registration with the USPTO, on the other hand, will provide national protection for your logo. Given today’s global market reach, such protection can be vital for your business.
Moreover, trademark registration will enter your logo into the USPTO’s official trademark database. This means others will see your logo when looking to trademark their own logo. It will also ensure you have superior legal rights and will be able to pursue legal action against any infringers, as explained below.
Why Would I Not Trademark My Logo?
As noted above, it typically is a good idea to trademark the logo for your business to gain full protection for your intellectual property rights. However, trademark registration with the USPTO will cost you some time and money.
This includes requiring you to conduct searches through the USPTO’s trademark database to determine if there are similar, competing logos that may block your trademark registration. It also includes filing fees for the trademark application itself.
Finally, it generally is a good idea to hire an intellectual property attorney to oversee this whole process.
This means that if your logo is not vital to the success of selling your goods and services, then it may make sense to hold off on registering your trademark with the USPTO.
If your goods or services are typically advertised and sold through word of mouth, then the recognition of your logo may not be that important and you may not be as concerned about protecting your intellectual property rights.