A custom logo design represents your brand and business to your potential customers and clients across the globe.
Just like your company's name, your logo establishes a unique presence of your brand identity in the global market.
This means your logo design should represent your business and set you apart from your competitors.
Since your logo is the goodwill of your business, don't forget to register the copyright of your logo design.
With this, you can protect your logo from being stolen or used by other companies or brands.
So, here in this post, we will share a complete guide on how to copyright a logo design, but before this, let's get dive more into the basics.
What is copyright?
Copyright is a legal right that defines your ownership of a particular work, task, or design.
It just protects the use of your work from getting used by someone else.
It helps you control commercial exploitation of your creative work so that you can focus on the uniqueness and relevancy of your tailor-made design or the content.
All you need to do is to own the copyright in your work (it can be anything content, paintings, web design, or logo design) at the time you develop it in a fixed form of expression.
Also, the copyrighting of a logo design becomes even more crucial if you want to maintain the unique identity of your business.
Nothing can be more disheartening for a professional designer than seeing their design being used by someone else, without their permission.
Your creative work is yours; nobody else has a right to use it for their commercial purposes.
Being a designer, make sure you are aware of all the copyright laws that can help you define your ownership on your logo design.
Below is the list of some primary copyright legislation that every designer should know to save the elements of their creativity.
1 – Things you cannot copyright
As a designer, you cannot copyright the following things:
● Variations of lettering and colouring
● Measurement charts, etc.
You can protect most of these elements via trademarks.
This means you do not need to copyright.
Well, most of the people get confused between copyrighting and trademarking.
In copyrighting, the owners have an exclusive right to protect their original work from being copied.
It is the act of utilising the trademarked element in written text to promote or distribute a viewpoint.
While the trademarking distinguishes a symbol, name, word, product or services from its competitors.
2 – Claim for the Copyright
Of course, you do not need to claim for the copyright if you created something yourself.
But the situation can arise when you are designing something for your client.
Most of the clients/companies want your work to be theirs specifically.
So, make sure you share rights with them to claim it for an authoritative reference.
Under such agreements, a designer is prohibited from using the image anywhere else, but still, you can request it as your own work or creation.
3 – Registration of Copyright
Certainly, you don't have to register the copyright for your logo design.
You just need to own it whenever you place your original work either on the computer drive or on paper.
However, you can register it if you want to sue someone for statutory damages.
By adding copyright symbol, you can tell people that it owns to you, and they cannot claim for it – as it is against the copyright laws.
In fact, you do not need to use the copyright symbol in the image.
Instead, you can add a notice with the image to let the people know that it is registered.
4 – Understanding the concept of Infringement
It is important to realise what is infringement in copyrighting.
Infringement is a situation when a person tries to copy a part of your design, without your permission or authority.
While there is no universal standard for this, but it secures your originality and keeps your work safe.
5 – Compensation
Compensation comes when you prove that the person has copied your design.
Then, you can ask for damages.
By filing for an injunction, you can protect your work from being copied by the other party.
Plus, claim compensation for the infringed work.
You can even make a request to the court to take serious actions against the infringing party.
Once you are aware of all the copyrights laws, make sure you own a copyright for your logo design as well.
What is the Difference between Copyright and Trademark?
If you want to protect your logo from infringement, then you should copyright and trademark your logo.
Only copyrighting won't protect your name or logo.
It will only secure your rights – describes that it is your intellectual property and nobody has a right to use it.
But a trademark can protect your logo if someone else tries to copy or steal it.
Let's explore more about these terms:
(a) Copyright Protection
Copyright protects your authorship towards a work or activity including writing, musical, dramatic or other intellectual works.
This means your work will automatically be copyrighted at the time when you release it publicly.
But registration is needed if you want to sue someone who has infringed your work.
Under copyright registration, you will be required to fill a form, pay a fee and also send a copy of the work to the United States Copyright Office.
(b) Trademark Protection
While Copyright protects your authorship or ownership, trademark protects words, symbols, colours, names or sounds that specify your products and services from your close competitors.
This means you should register a trademark for your business name, logos, slogans if you want to enhance its security.
Trademark describes the authenticity of your brand.
Both the concepts gives protection to your intellectual property, but they protect different sorts of assets.
Copyright is for artistic, creative and literary work such as books, while a trademark protects your business name, and logo – that describes your brand image.
So both of them are essential when it comes to protecting the logo design of your business.
When Should You Copyright a Logo Design?
Since a logo design is an artistic creation, it will be protected under the copyright laws.
Below are the steps to copyright a logo:
1 – Know when to claim for copyright
You can only claim for the copyright if you are the original author/creator of your logo.
In case, you hired a designer to create a logo; you can acquire the copyright only if they are ready to commission the work.
2 – Delve yourself into a research on existing logos
In case your logo is similar to any other existing logo, then you cannot claim for it.
So before claiming the copyright, do proper research on it.
Ensure that the logo you wish to copyright is unique.
You can visit the U.S. Copyright Office website to do research for all the existing logo designs.
There you will get a database of all the registered trademarks.
How to Copyright a Logo Design?
Below are the steps on how to copyright a logo:
1 – Fill and Submit the application
You can find the copyright form online quickly.
All you need to do is to download and fill up the form using precise information.
● You can submit both the electronic as well as paper versions of the form online. You just need to visit the official site of United States Copyright Office.
● If you want to file online, you will need to click on the above link and hit the “Electronic Copyright Office' login icon. Now create an account and submit your application by following the on-screen instructions.
● To fill a paper form, go to the above link as well and click on the “Visual Arts” form download, “Form VA”. This particular form is for creative work such as graphics, images, etc. Print the form and fill up it using correct information.
● The form will ask you to add personal information, the name of the owner or author, along with the nature of copyright documentation.
● Also, mention the method of payment, contact information and handwritten signature.
2 – Pay a registration Fee
The registration fee to copyright a logo is $39, and the cost to send a paper application form is $65.
Below are some key points that you should consider before paying your registration fee:
● Fee is non-refundable
● If you are applying online, you can pay your fee via credit card.
● If you are applying via mail, use cheque or money order.
● Make sure you file a paper application (Form RE) if you are renewing your copyright claim.
3 – Submit the copies of your logo
In case, your logo has been published on some other platform; you must send in two copies of it.
If it has never published publicly, you may need to send in one copy only.
Remember that these copies will not be returned to you.
If filing online, attach a digital version of your logo.
But, still, you need to submit the hard copy of your logo at a later stage.
4 – Getting a confirmation mail
After that, you will need to upload your logo file, along with a registration fee.
Then you will receive a confirmation about your registered copyright, which will show a pending status for approval.
Note: Remember that your copyright will be considered as the exact date you submitted your application instead of the time of approval.
With the help of this blog post, you will be able to register a copyright of your logo design with ease.
Since your creative thoughts, ideas and work belong only to you, make sure you protect it from being infringed or copied.
Author Bio: Lucy Barret is a WordPress developer, currently employed at HireWPGeeks, a WordPress Development Company. She is also a blogger and enjoys writing technical content on WordPress, Web Design, Trends etc. You can follow her on Twitter.