Studies have found that when people are shopping they scan the shelves for their favourite brands not by name but by logo. Pictures register on the brain faster than words and it is these images (logos) that people remember. That is why it is not only important to have a logo that truly reflects your company’s desired image, but to protect that image by making sure, as much as possible, that it cannot be copied or replicated by unscrupulous competitors who may wish to either capitalise on your own reputation or damage that reputation, by offering inferior products that appear to be yours.
The easiest way to gain the greatest amount of protection, for your logo, is to register it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Even if your business is based out of Singapore the USPTO is still your best registration option as it, by international treaty, offers the widest possible legal coverage.
The process for registration is fairly straightforward, just follow these simple steps.
- Assess Your Logo
Look for those elements that most define and are unique to your company’s logo. Only attempt to trademark those that specifically identify your company, the USPTO will not register any other parts of your logo.
- Search for Existing Trademarks
You will need to make sure that you are not infringing on someone else’s existing trademark. There are two primary databases that you will need to check, the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) and the Design Search Code Manual.
- Seek Legal Council
At this point it is advisable, but not mandatory that you seek the advice of an attorney. This is especially important if you have elements of other logos that are similar to your own or if you have several elements that you wish to protect under one application. Be advised though, that the patent office will only communicate with your attorney, not you, once you hire him.
- File a Trademark Application
You can fill out an actual paper application, but the preferred method of applying is through the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System.
- Receive Your Trademark Serial Number
If you have used the electronic submission system you should receive a confirmation email almost immediately. In it you will see the serial number that has been assigned to your application. Save this number carefully as it will be the only way to track your application as it proceeds through the approval process. If you have filed a paper application you should receive your number in 7-10 business days from the time the patent office received your paperwork.
If there are no issues with your application you should receive a reply in 3-6 months. However, if it is found that part of your trademark might infringe on an existing registration or any other problems arise the wait could extend for years and it is advisable to seek legal counsel immediately if haven’t done so already.
- Receive a Response
Whether the wait is 3 months or 3 years you will eventually receive a reply from the USPTO. If successful, it will fully inform you of all of your rights under international trademark law.
- Defend Your Rights
Having your logo trademarked will greatly reduce the chances that competitors will try to infringe on your business, but it will not eliminate all possible attacks on your image. However, once a trademark has been issued you will have a much better chance of being able to defend your company and regain monetary damages from those who try.