Federal Protect | Education

At first glance, securing a US logo trademark might seem like an essential step in safeguarding your brand’s visual identity. However, for many small businesses and especially those in their infancy (like startups), the broader, more flexible protection offered by a word mark registration might actually be the smarter choice. Why? Let’s dive in.

Broad Coverage with a Word Mark Registration

Registering your brand name as a word mark gives you an umbrella of protection that covers the use of your brand name in any format, including when it’s woven into a logo design. This type of registration doesn’t limit you to a specific font, color, or design arrangement, offering a significant advantage. Why restrict yourself to a specific logo design when your business is still exploring its brand identity and could undergo several redesigns in its early years?

Young businesses often rebrand and update their logo designs.

Your Evolving Brand

It’s not uncommon for young businesses to evolve their branding as they grow and understand their market better. During this phase, your logo might change multiple times before settling on a design that truly represents your brand. If you’ve registered a logo trademark early on, any significant departure from that registered design could leave you unprotected unless you go through the registration process again for the new logo. This is not only cumbersome but also potentially costly.

Should you Register Wordmark & Logo Registrations Together?

Combining trademark applications for a business name and logo into a single filing might initially seem like a cost-effective strategy. However, this perceived shortcut is fraught with long-term disadvantages and is strongly advised against by many legal experts. That’s because when a name and logo are registered as one trademark, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recognizes them only as a combined entity. This means the business does not hold separate rights to the name or the logo, severely restricting the ability to protect these elements independently. As businesses evolve, logos may change, and a previously combined trademark filing can become a significant hindrance, potentially requiring new filings and negating any initial savings.

When Does Registering a Logo Make Sense?

That’s not to say registering a logo trademark is without its merits. For larger companies with the budget to match, or businesses whose logos have become synonymous with their product or service, a logo trademark provides an essential layer of protection. If your logo is already widely recognized and closely associated with your offerings, registering it can help ward off specific threats, such as counterfeit products or knockoff imports, ensuring that your brand remains uniquely yours.

A Strategic Decision

The decision to register a logo trademark should not be taken lightly. It’s a strategic choice that depends largely on your business’s current stage, future branding plans, and budget constraints. For many small businesses, the flexibility and broad coverage of a word mark registration make it a practical, efficient choice for brand protection. It ensures that as your brand evolves, your trademark can effortlessly adapt to your growth and the new directions you might take.