You've selected a creative and distinctive name for your business and you're excited about your new logo. You want to protect your brand from competitors who take shortcuts and cause consumer confusion by pretending to be you, so you wisely decide to apply for trademark protection. The question becomes whether you should trademark your name (the text), or the logo (artwork).
I usually advise my clients to trademark the name, not the logo. I'll explain why.
There are two kids of trademarks: 1) standard character marks, consisting of text only; and 2) stylized marks, consisting of artwork.
Suppose your business name is represented in logo form, you really love the artwork, and you don't want anyone else to use it. You apply for a stylized mark, spend the money and go through the application process, waiting approximately nine months until the registration is issued, then you are the registered owner of the mark. Congrats!
You later grow tired of the mark and decide to revise. Maybe play with a new font, size, or color scheme, or perhaps a total rebrand to something fresh. I recently had a new logo made for my law practice. Trademarks do not carry over to new logos. You would have no trademark protection for the new artwork, and would have to apply all over again. You would be chained to the original logo design and would be de-incentivized to rebrand.
You learn a competitor is using a name very similar to your own. They might be using the name as a standard character or it might be incorporated into artwork, but you are justifiably upset and want to act to protect your rights. Your attorney advises you that your mark is only for the artwork itself, and if the text is represented in a different form by a competitor, you do not have federal trademark protection. (You might have common law trademark rights in your state, but this lacks statutory remedies.)
In summary, unless a competitor is copying the exact or very similar logo, your stylized mark offers little protection.
Your business name is incorporated into a logo, which you love. You apply for a standard character mark, consisting of the text only, and do not seek trademark protection for the artwork.
Once the registration is issued, you have trademark protection however you choose to publish the trademark, whether it's basic text of any font or size, or embedded in any kind of artwork. By opting for a standard character mark, instead of a stylized mark, the scope of protection for your mark is much broader. If a competitor knocks off your name in any format, you're on much stronger legal footing than if you merely had a stylized mark.
My other business, Eternal Roots, has a standard character mark. The name is embedded in a couple different logo variations, but I didn't bother trademarking the logos themselves. As long as the registered text is in the artwork, then you're protected. I'm now exploring new logo options, and whatever happens to the logo over time, the core brand - the name itself - will always be protected by trademark.
when are stylized marks necessary?
I'm not bashing stylized marks in general. I have multiple applications pending at the USPTO for clients with stylized marks. There are situations where stylized marks are appropriate.
If your brand has distinctive artwork that is not dependent upon standard characters, like the Nike swoosh, and you have built significant brand recognition, then a stylized mark is appropriate.
If you are concerned with bad actors knocking off your brand and selling counterfeit goods, then you definitely want to lock down the artwork.
One of the applications I have pending consists of my client's initials in logo format. We are not concerned about a competitor trying to steal her personal name, but by having the registration, being able to put that ® next to the logo, she's showing the world she takes her brand seriously and is an established businesswoman.
In closing, standard character marks offer the broadest possible protection and enable you to modify your artwork at will. I generally counsel my clients to register their marks as standard character. However, there are circumstances where a stylized mark is appropriate.
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