Importance of copyrighting a logo

copyright logo

Content copyright is vital for every creative individual and business. Elements such as your logo play a critical role in establishing your brand. Because of this, it is natural to feel concerned about someone copying your original works. Making your logo copyrightable by adding a copyright symbol is critical to protect your original work from being copied. We’re here to assist you to place copyright protection for your original work.

  • Why is copyrighting a logo so critical?
  • Should I copyright or trademark my logo?
  • How to copyright your logo in WA, DC
  • Gain rights to your creativity with an attorney

A copyrighted logo is protected as an artistic work. Unauthorized usage of your logo is an infringement of copyright. No one can use any of your original works fixed in a tangible form without your permission.

Should I copyright or trademark my logo?

“Can I copyright my logo?” is a common misconception. To answer this correctly, distinguish between what works are subject to copyright and trademark. Registrations serve various purposes, and there are numerous ways to be protected by copyright law.

Generally, if you use your logo for commercial value, you should register ownership of the trademark. By registering your trademark, you guarantee that people identify your brand. You may protect your logo if it is your original work and is non-commercial. As with a piece of art, copyright ownership preserves your logo’s originality.

Learn the differences between trademark and copyright protection to determine which you need.

What is protected by copyright?

It is possible to retain all copyright to safeguard your original work in a tangible medium of expression. If you use your logo for purposes other than selling products and services, you should submit a copyright notice.

Copyrights protect items like writings, photographs, online images, music, and a computer program from being reproduced by others without permission and proper acknowledgment. The copyrighted material is unrelated to the commercial products or services. You may place copyright restrictions on your logo. However the following may also be protectable by a copyright system:

  • a book
  • a painting
  • a web page
  • a photograph
  • a song recorded on a CD or other medium
  • Original sound recording

Your logo can be subject to copyright if it is an original work of authorship, such as a computer-rendered design, sketch, writings, painting, or photograph.

What cannot be copyrighted but trademarked instead?

Trademarks help consumers recognize the origin of goods and services. Your logo serves as a trademark for the products or services you sell under your brand’s name. Using a trademark registration application allows you to prevent others from using your trademark on similar products or services.

Typical trademarked products include business names, slogans, taglines, and logos.

Since trademarks are meant to identify a firm or brand, registering the brand specifics as a trademark makes sense. You can prevent others from using your logo or selling similar products as you do.

Trademarks shield your products from being mistaken for others because of their similarity in appearance, sound, or meaning. So, if you’re investing in your company’s brand image, make sure to register your trademark. It’s also possible that your photograph qualifies for copyright protection.

How to copyright your logo in WA, DC

If you value the originality in your logo and want it protected by the Copyright Act, follow these steps:

  • Prepare your original work before lodging a copyright application. 
  • Prepare a valid payment method for the cost.
  • Visit the US Copyright Office website. 
  • Select “Electronic Copyright Registration” to fill out.
  • Mention the logo’s designer and owner’s contact details.
  • If your logo is the artistic work of a professional designer, be careful to include proof of work made for hire from the creators to you. 
  • Fill out the form and pay online using the current fee schedule.
  • Mail your deposit and two hard copies of the collective work.
  • Wait for approval and your registration certificate and necessary licenses

There you have it. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that you have exclusive rights to an original work you made from scratch.

Determining Your Logo’s Copyright Eligibility

Logos and trademark features are not all copyright-protected material.

If a trademark, logo, or label is only a collection of words, the United States Copyright Office will not register it. Simply using various fonts or available colors, frames, and borders does not qualify as registering anything.

Trademarks are protected under copyright law if they contain the following elements:

  • Characters are shown graphically.
  • Trademarks feature visual and photographic components.

Examples of trademark and copyright-eligible logos include Disney characters (such as Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck). For example, the Car Credit City and Baltimore Ravens logos were authorized for registration by the US Copyright Office despite their simplicity.

Protecting Your Logo’s Copyright Is Beneficial

If you think your logo qualifies for copyright protection, the next logical question is: why bother to own the copyright? The following are only a handful of the many advantages.

  • Labeling, packaging, or advertising content eligible for copyright can be violated without a trademark.

In certain circumstances, infringement of copyright is more accessible to prove than trademark infringement.

Copyrights exist to safeguard your derivative work. The attention is on the works’ resemblance. To prevent consumer confusion, trademarks must pass a series of tests, including the relatedness of products, the validity of the copyright owner’s mark, placing, marketing channel overlap, and purpose and proof of real confusion. There needs to be proof that someone is copying your idea or reproducing a strategy you originally came up with.

The use of trademarks in areas where you cannot have trademark rights may be stopped by copyright laws.

  • Trademark infringement does not require copyright infringement.

If you want to protect your brands, you must register trademarks.

To recap, only character graphics and pictorial and graphical elements used in trademarks are protected by copyright laws in the US. The rest of your logo may not be protected. For example, if a trademark is violated, but the infringer substitutes a different logo or label that uses the exact wording. The word mark would thus have to be proven as a trademark infringement.

Copyright registration requires both original literary works of authorship and a minimum degree of inventiveness. 

Registration of trademarks is more complicated. You must demonstrate that the logo identifies a provider of products or services. Trademarks should be suggestive, arbitrary, or whimsical to qualify. A generic trademark is not protected by trademark law. To file a trademark in the Supplemental Register, it must be only descriptive. Occasionally, descriptive markings gain commercial recognition.

  • When the United States Patent and Brand Office (USPTO) declines to register your trademark, you may be protected under copyright law.

Even if the USPTO declines to register your trademark, copyright law may be able to help protect you.

For illicit goods, the USPTO would not file trademarks. Thus a copyright holder may be the safest method of getting legal protection.

It is also possible that the USPTO won’t register your trademark if you feel that the logo may confuse customers as to where your goods and services come from. Confusion among consumers is unimportant to copyright legislation.

Gain rights to your creativity with an attorney

Even when your work hasn’t been infringed in the case at hand, US Copyright law may be able to help safeguard you from breach of copyright. To get further legal protection for your logo, you need to submit a copyright notice. A trademark registration alone may not be enough. Copyright rights offer various legal benefits than registered trademarks, such as punitive damages, and, alternatively, registered trademark gives certain privileges that aren’t covered by copyright. An intellectual property rights lawyer can help you decide the best line of action for safeguarding your copyright and intellectual property. Whether you want to raise copyright issues or learn more about copyright violations, our team of dedicated copyright attorneys at War IP Law can provide you with the assistance you need and a plan of action.