Should I Trademark My Business Name or Logo?

Are you running a new business, and looking to protect the equity in your name and your logo? Filing for federal or state trademark protection may be the right move for you. However, we are often asked whether it makes sense to trademark the name or slogan of a business, the logo for the business, or both. This article describes the differences between these various types of trademarks and the considerations for entrepreneurs interested in trademark protection. To better illustrate these terms, we’ve come up with the hypothetical company YanKenPo, Inc., whose officers are considering trademarking YanKenPo’s name and logo. The logo for the company contains the word “YanKenPo” in a stylized font along with other unique design elements.

What’s The Difference Between Trademarking a Name versus a Logo?

You can register your business name or slogan as a “standard character mark”, which is any combination of letters and numbers with no reference to style, design, font or color. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the rights in a standard character mark “reside in the wording,” allowing you to “use and protect the mark in any font size, style or color.” Standard character marks offer the broadest possible rights of any single form of trademark protection, but do not protect special designs and coloration.

A “Standard Character Mark” will provide protection for the name of the business or the slogan for the business, and provides the exclusive right to use the name/slogan in any form in combination with the categories of goods and services that we identify in the application.

You can also register a stylized design known as a “special form mark,” or “design mark.” Special form marks protect a specific combination of stylized lettering, a design element such as a logo, or both. This type of protection is ideal for companies looking to protect a distinctive visual aesthetic or signal, but it is fairly limited. Special form rights protect only the particular style registered. If you want to make a design change, you’ll have to file again.

A “Design Mark” will provide protection for the business’ logo. This will be a trademark application for the black and white version of the logo so that you have protection over any color versions of the logo as well.

Which One Should I Trademark?

It depends. Higher value tends to lie in name recognition rather than familiarity of a logo. Since logos change more often than names, it usually makes more sense to register a standard character mark to protect the business moniker itself. With their generous set of rights, standard character marks allow you to preserve near-complete control over your business name. Because standard character marks protect the mark in any font size, style, or color, if your logo contains the name of your business, then nobody who offers the same goods or services would be able to copy your logo even if you only registered your standard character mark. However, if your logo commands attention and a good deal of customer recognition, or if you are concerned about competitors using a similar logo, you may want to consider trademarking it.

Now, let’s go back to our hypothetical company, YanKenPo. If YanKenPo registered as a standard character mark, then YanKenPo’s competitors would be prohibited from using the name “YanKenPo” (or any confusingly similar name) within the same categories of goods and services offered by YanKenPo. This protection would even extend to the company's logo because the logo contains the word “YanKenPo.” However, if YanKenPo did not obtain protection under a design mark application as well, another company may be able to do a similar logo but with a different word without infringing on YanKenPo’s registered trademark.

I Want To Register My Name AND My Logo. Do I Register Them Together Or Separately?

Separately. Although you can apply for trademark protection for your name and logo concurrently, each is considered a separate mark. As such, each mark (i.e. your standard character mark and your design mark) requires its own application.

How Expensive Is It To Register?

The filing fees for trademark applications will run you between $225 and $325 per class per mark.

How Do I File For A Trademark?

Great question! If you’re interested in filing for a trademark, you should read up on the benefits and process, and conduct a trademark clearance search.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. This article may constitute attorney advertising under applicable state laws.