If you’re looking to start a business, expand your product line, or rebrand something already in existence, it is important to ask yourself one question: do I need to protect the brand of my company? As with any intellectual property matter, before going through the process of acquiring it or deciding that it isn’t necessary for your purposes, make sure all the boxes have been ticked. Registering a trademark is a very serious and important process. Here are eight things to consider when registering your brand name or logo.
1. What is a trademark?
A trademark can be anything from words to graphic representations (usually a logo) representing a company, product, or service from a legal perspective. The first thing you need to understand when you ask yourself, “Do I need a trademark?” is separate from other business filings. It is an entirely separate legal process compared to the process you go through to register your fictitious name, LLC trade name, or sole proprietorship with the appropriate state and federal registrars of legal entities.
2. What are the main benefits of trademarking the logo?
Registering your Trademark is the first step in protecting yourself from other companies using it for their purposes. It’s a necessary tool to ensure that you have exclusive rights over your name and logo, which are integral parts of establishing an identity as a company. Registering trademarks can also help prevent others from duplicating or infringing on features of your product, such as its packaging design or trade dress (the appearance).
3. What is the difference between a trademark and a copyright?
A trademark refers to symbols, words, and logos that represent a particular brand. A trademark is essentially your brand name and its identity. Copyright applies to creative and artistic works, music, film, photography, painting, writing, and so on. You can legally protect your logo as copyright as well.
Please see the table below to learn more about the trademark and copyright protection features of your logo.
|Оbjectives of legal protection||Ensuring recognition of authorship in the country of registration, legalization of the use of the development by the author.||Recognition of authorship worldwide, prohibition of plagiarism around the world, the possibility of capitalization and monetization.|
|The most common types of objects to be registered||Protects product and services names, logos, and slogans.||Brands, package designs, logo, business concepts, designs, software.|
|Legal protection features||Limitation by classes, some commonly used words cannot be trademarked.||No limitation by classes, industries. Must satisfy the requirements: to be creative, original, and expressed in objective form|
|Key benefits||Trademark allows for prohibiting unauthorized use or the use of similar trademarks likely to be confused. Color, semantics, phonetics, proportions, ratios are recognized as signs of difference.||Reproduction (replication) of the creative intent of one work. Minor changes prevent competitors from using the object.|
|Validity term||Ten years (can be renewed with state fee payment).||Typically lasts the creator’s lifetime, plus 5070 years.|
|Terms of registration||46 months||1020 days|
|The territory of recognition & legal protection||In-country of registration.||Worldwide (179 countries).|
4. Is a trademark enforceable around the world
No. Trademark grants you trademark protection only in the country where you filed the trademark application. Although registering your logo as a trademark in one country may make it easier to register a trademark in another country, you will need to file a separate trademark application or seek international legal protection in each country in which you seek legal protection, as international agreements and regulations have created a mechanism for you to obtain an international trademark. This total will add additional costs as your business expands worldwide.
Registering your logo as a copyrighted work could be an excellent alternative with much less investment as you only pay once to protect your brand assets in 179 countries.
5. How long does it take to trademark a logo?
It usually takes four to six months to register a trademark from application to grant. However, in complex cases, it can take up to three years. In contrast, when you register your logo as copyright, you get your logo protected in as little as ten to twenty days.
6. What does the process of registration of a trademark involve?
If you are applying for trademark registration, the following steps need to be considered:
- Before applying for trademark registration for your logo, search your country’s databases to determine if another company is already using a logo that is too similar to the one you want.
- Once you have determined that your logo is not too similar to another brand’s, you can go ahead and file a trademark application with your local trademark office and wait for the logo to be published or rejected, depending on whether or not it meets the trademark criteria for registration.
- Hire a professional and experienced local IP consultant to handle all the paperwork and act on your behalf to simplify the process.
7. What if my trademark application is rejected?
There are many reasons why your trademark application may be refused. These include:
- If your logo is generic – as in, it’s just a common symbol or emoji, or it has a name that could belong to anyone, you probably won’t qualify for a trademark. So, for example, logos representing companies named “Amazing Lawyer” or “Very Good Pizza” will likely not be recognized.
- There is a high likelihood of confusion, meaning consumers may mistake your logo for an existing registered trademark.
- Your logo is merely an embellishment and not a legitimate identifying mark
- Your logo contains offensive wording or imagery (although there are exceptions where this type of material can be registered as a trademark).
- The logo’s imagery or text is geographically misdescriptive, meaning it falsely implies that your business or product is located in or sourced from a particular place.
If you think the rejection was a mistake, you can file an appeal with the Trademark Office to have the application reconsidered and, ideally, accepted. However, if it turns out that your logo cannot be registered as a trademark, you will need to go back to the drawing board and create a new logo before trying again.
Your customers recognize your brand by your logo. Protecting it means protecting your corporate identity. The level of protection you need will be determined by the size and scope of your business. Small local brands may not need the hassle of registering a trademark as a logo, but it also becomes more vulnerable to infringement as your business grows.
You can certainly handle the process of registering your logo as a trademark yourself. But working with an IP consultancy can be beneficial, as experienced intellectual property experts can file your trademark application for you and handle all the paperwork for you, saving you time, money, energy, and eliminating the risk of a potential mistake.
INTEROCO Copyright Office Dubai was established to help businesses in Dubai understand the process of registering a copyright and other intellectual property rights. We not only provide IP protection services for individuals and businesses but also offer solutions that will allow you to monetize your IP assets boosting your business growth. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.