How to Copyright a Logo and How Much Does it Cost?
You probably already have a name and even a logo for your company. Ideally, it’s something unique that will make your business stand out among the competitors. To keep it that way, it’s in your best interest to copyright and trademark your logo and your name. But first, you need to know how to copyright a name and logo.
You may also want to know how much it can cost. Finally, you should know what the difference between copyright and trademark is, as although these terms are similar, they are not the same. This article will help you get answers to these and some other common questions regarding copyright and trademark.
Is it Necessary to Copyright Your Logo?
By law, it’s not necessary to copyright and trademark your name and your logo. You own the copyright simply by creating the artwork, and you get a trademark by using your logo and your name in the market. U.S. and Canadian law automatically recognizes the author as the owner of the copyright.
However, when it comes to artworks as simple as company logos usually are, you can’t really count on automatic recognition. Common symbols, colors, and words typically used in logos can’t be protected by copyright, since copyright requires a certain level of creativity.
You can probably get by without protecting your name & logo in your local market, but if you ever expect to expand, it’s highly advisable that you copyright & trademark them. That way, you’ll avoid confusion and eventual legal disputes with companies of similar names or visual identity.
What’s the Difference Between Copyright and Trademark?
There is a lot of confusion between copyright and trademark. People often think they’re the same thing. In fact, they are separate, as can be clearly seen in the U.S. example: they fall under the jurisdiction of two different federal offices - trademarks are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, while copyrights fall under the U.S. Copyright Office.
However, there are some gray areas in practice. For example, normally you cannot copyright a word or a phrase, since copyright is meant for protecting original artwork, and trademark is used to protect names and slogans. But in some cases, the law will find a certain word or a phrase creative enough to deserve copyright protection.
What Is a Copyright?
Copyright is the exclusive right to use intellectual property, most often earned by creating it, but it can also be bought. In other words, when you own the copyright, no one else is allowed to use it for commercial purposes. This doesn’t only stand for individual creators because companies can own copyright too.
Copyright is mostly used to protect art such as movies, books, songs, paintings, designs, etc. On the other hand, (in most cases) you can’t copyright names, titles, phrases, symbols, slogans, variations of colors, and similar universal concepts.
So, in this case, copyright can be used to protect your company’s logo design. However, please note that this requires a certain level of creativity. You can’t earn copyright simply by using universal symbols, words, and colors. A lot of logos are not considered creative enough to be granted copyright protection.
As mentioned before, you automatically become the copyright owner as soon as you create your work. But, in order to prevent others from using it, you need to register it. That way you will be recognized as the only entity allowed to use the creation.
Copyright registration allows you to sue anyone who uses your work, and you know you can expect a positive outcome. Copyright registration will serve as your ultimate proof. That means that every time someone tries to use your creation for commercial or other public purposes, you will gain more profit than you will experience damage.
What Is a Trademark?
Simply put, a trademark is used for protecting any elements of your company’s identity that copyright can’t. That usually includes the name, slogans, fonts, and colors. Trademarks are also used to protect logos that aren’t considered to be creative enough to be protected by copyright.
Just like with copyright, you’re not protected simply by using your company’s marks. You still need to register the trademark in order to protect yourself from lawsuits and become eligible to sue anyone who uses your registered symbols.
By registering a trademark, you get the right to use the ® symbol, which sends a clear message to anyone who thinks of using your marks that they are a registered trademark. Until registration, you have the right to use the ™ (unregistered trademark) symbol for products, and ℠ (unregistered service trademark) symbol for services.
Should I Copyright or Trademark a Logo?
This really depends on the situation. As mentioned before, a lot of logos don’t qualify for copyright protection due to their lack of creativity. If your logo is more artistic than universal, it might qualify, but you still can’t copyright the color used in the logo.
Even if your logo does qualify for copyright protection, you can still register it as a trademark. Registering a copyright of your work protects it from further copying by others, while a trademark protects your marks from others trying to use them on the marketplace.
To put it more clearly, a trademark is used to avoid confusion on the market. However, you can’t protect your logo authorship without a copyright registration.
How to Copyright a Logo?
Nowadays, copyright registration is easier than ever. You can do it online, from the comfort of your home or your office during work hours. You can still do it on paper if you’re old-fashioned, but doing it online is easier, cheaper, and more efficient. In Canada, you can go to the e-services page of the Intellectual Property Office.
In the U.S., you can visit the official website of the United States Copyright Office and go to the Registration page. Then you have to fill out a registration form that requires various answers, from your personal info to different types of copyright documentation. You will be asked to provide a graphic example of the artwork you want to register.
After that, you will be asked to pay the registration fee using any electronic method of payment. Once your payment is processed, you will receive a confirmation of your registration request. If your request gets approved, you will own the copyright from the moment of your application.
How Much Does it Cost to Copyright a Logo?
If you apply online, your registration fee should be no more than 50 CAD in Canada or 40 USD in the U.S. If you do it in person it might be more expensive as it requires more work.
How to Trademark a Logo
Before you trademark your logo, you should conduct research to make sure no one else is using something too similar. You can do it using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This way you’ll avoid possible conflicts and save the time you’d lose by filing an application destined to fail.
After you’ve made sure that no one else is using the same logo, you can start with your registration. Here’s how to trademark a logo: You can file your request through the Trademark Electronic Application System for the U.S. or the Intellectual Property Office’s e-service in Canada. You will be asked to fill out different registrations and forms.
The application form will require a detailed description of your logo and its purpose. Once you’ve filled an application, you should check on it every 3-4 months. It usually takes about four months to get approval, but sometimes it can be shorter or longer.
To Sum It Up
We hope this blog helps you get a clearer picture of logo copyright and trademark. It’s up to you to decide if you want to do it and to choose between copyright and trademark because you can actually get by without registration. However, it’s likely in your best interest to register your intellectual work and company marks. You can only benefit from it.