The Importance Of Using And Protecting Your Logo Or Trademark
by Dan Sayble
A logo is your mean weapon in the realm of BRANDING, and it should properly reflect the image that your company wishes to portray. A logo may consist of a word or words, a phrase, a person’s name, a symbol, a picture, or a combination of any of these. It can be used in all your advertising and promotion, and also instead of, or in conjunction with, your company name as your main company trademark or service mark.
MANY LOGO OPTIONS
The best logos reflect the NATURE of the business they symbolize yet are simple enough to retain legibility over a wide variety of reproductions — business cards, letterheads, merchandise, web site, etc. Many logos are based on a simple but effective illustration. Often, setting the company’s name in a distinctive typeface will form a memorable logo. Sometimes the letters are modified to create a special effect. In other cases, portions of the letters are omitted or exaggerated. Logos are particularly important for business web sites, providing visual shorthand for immediate identification.
A Service Mark identifies the source of a SERVICE rather than the source of a product. For example, a utility company may use a service mark to identify the service it offers.
A Strong Trademark consists of a word that has no recognizable MEANING, such as Kodak or Microsoft. Strong trademarks receive broad protection from being used by other companies in a deceptive manner.
Weak Trademarks consist of a common word, such as First or Best, or a word that suggests some CHARACTERISTIC of the product, such as Wet n’ Wash, Mop n’ Glo, or Shake n’ Bake. They receive less protection, unless the public identifies them with a certain manufacturer as a result of wide advertising and long continuous use.
PROTECTING YOUR LOGO OR TRADEMARK
Make sure your logo design is available for USE. If you do intend to use a logo as a central focus of your business image, protect it by REGISTERING it with your state, or with the Patent and Trademark Office so that others can’t use it (Ma Bell failed to register their “yellow pages walking fingers”. Now all yellow-pages companies can use the graphic, and many do.)
HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED
In previous years, to secure a trademark or service mark, you had to prove to the government that you were already using the mark by submitting SAMPLES of labels, tags and other materials that displayed it. But the laws were recently changed. All you have to do now is state the intention to use the mark you desire to register. However, because there are other decisions to be made regarding registration, you may need to secure the advice of a lawyer specializing in trademark law. You’ll need to know:
- whether the trademark will be used strictly on a local or statewide basis
- everything involved in maintaining your rights to the logo or trademark
- what to do if you choose to register locally now and run into a conflict later when you want to go NATIONAL
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