Once you have a logo design, it officially becomes your property. This is normal, considering the amount of time and effort that goes into creating a logo, particularly a good one. Unfortunately, it is common for other people to attempt to copy or even steal logo designs, so it is important that you take all the necessary steps in order to protect your logo as best as possible.
How You Should Do It
The best way to safeguard your logo is to register it as a trademark. This should be done early on because once a logo is trademarked, you are protected against third party that might attempt to infringe on your design.
Not all trademarks have to be logos. They can also include other graphical representations that are associated with your brand. Common examples include slogans, shapes and even colours. In order for something to be acceptable as a trademark, you need to make sure that it is unique to your business and that is not just a description of a product or a service. For example, if you owned a bakery, you would not be able to trademark the word CAKE because it is simple a word used to describe a certain kind of product provided by all other businesses such as yours. However, you might be able to register CAKE if it was the logo or brand for a company from another industry because, in that case, it would be unique.
Before you look into a trademark, you must first make sure that nobody else already has the trademark that you are attempting to register. There are several sources you can use for this, both national and international, depending on where your business is located. When you search you should also look for trademarks that might sound or appear similar to yours. This includes misspellings, plurals, hyphenated words and words that are phonetically similar. In certain cases, such trademarks will have special clauses that prevent others from registering their own trademarks that might be similar.
Once you have your trademark, you can go through the process by yourself online. However, it is generally recommended that you seek legal advice when you do this, especially if you are selling a product internationally.
The Costs of Registering
A lot of attorneys that specialize in trademarks will provide free consultations for your application. However, even if you have to pay a fee, it is usually worth it considering the troubles that it can save you later on.
If you want your trademark to be protected on a larger-than-national level, it would definitely cost you more and it will also take longer for your application to be processed. In Europe, for example, such an application can take around a full year, but after that the trademark is protected in all 27 EU countries.
When you register a trademark, you will need to choose a class that your business fits into. There are dozens of classes to choose and your trademark will be applicable for your respective class. You should also take into account the owner of the trademark. If the company itself owns the trademark, then it will change hands should the business be sold off.
It might seem like a tedious process, but it is completely necessary. A logo will be very valuable to your business and you do not want to lose it. Also, do not avoid hiring an attorney in order to save money because his services can speed up the process considerably.