How To Trademark A Logo

How To Trademark A Logo

The company logo design is a valuable piece of business property.

Many consumers choose between products only by looking at logos, because they associate certain brands (and their respective logo) with a quality.

As with any intellectual property, logos need to be legally protected. That is accomplished by trademarking a logo with the Intellectual Property Office.

The common belief is that all trademarks need to be registered with Companies House. However, that’s not the case when it comes to trademarking a logo design.

Companies House will only trademark the company name. The Intellectual Property Office is the agency that registers the various words, logos and pictures used to identify products or services used in commerce.

Trademark vs Copyright


Before looking at the procedure for trademarking a logo, it’s important to address an issue that is confusing to many people – what is the difference between a trademark and a copyright?

Trademarks protect a name, word or phrase, a design, or a symbol that distinguishes one company’s goods or services from those of another.

For example, Apple trademarks are plainly visible (indicated by either the “RTM” or “®” symbol) on an iPad because both the word “iPad” and the Apple logo design are protected. Consumers immediately know that the device is made by Apple, and will assume it has the same level of quality that they associate with Apple products in general.

In contrast, copyright is an intellectual property right that vests in a “work” created by the author.

As an example, the text content of a book is copyright of the author. That legally protects the book from plagiarism. When the author signs to a publishing house, he or she assigns the copyright to the publishing house in exchange for royalties.

Related:   School Branding Tips – A Logo Design Guide for Universities and Colleges


Can a group of words be both a copyrighted work and a trademark?


Yes, if the claim is made that the phrase had an author. One example is McDonald’s, which uses the advertising slogan “I'm lovin’ it.” The phrase can be both a mark and copyrighted work. As a matter of practicality, however, most companies will file just for a trademark since it is far easier to enforce than a copyright claim for a three-word slogan.


How to trademark a logo


Trade and Service Marks


Another question that often arises: what’s the difference between a trademark and service mark?

They’re essentially the same. There’s just one significant difference: the inherent nature of what is being sold or protected. A trademark protects a business name or tangible product.  A service mark, as its name would imply, protects a service that is being provided.

For example, Apple marks are designated as “trade” because they protect products traded in commerce. The mark of a large financial company’s tax service, on the other hand, would be designated as a service mark since the business provides a service to customers, and not a tangible product. It is a small but important distinction.


How to Trademark a Logo Design


Every business should look into trademarking a logo design. The process is not all that difficult and is well worth the time and effort it requires.


Step One : Research


The first step in trademarking a logo does not involve the Intellectual Property Office at all.

Instead, you need to see if the logo design infringes on one that has already been used in commerce or has been registered with any intellectual property databases. This investigation is known as a professional trademark search.

It is possible to do this yourself by searching trademark registries (the important ones are run by the IPO, the EU, and the US) and looking for the use of similar logos online.

However, if a major investment is at risk, it makes more sense to hire a professional trademark company to do a thorough search. This will customarily cost around £200.

Related:   The Future of Logo Design & Branding

A trademark search will identify if there are any other marks about which you need to be concerned. If your logo is too similar to another, the company owning that mark can sue you for “trademark infringement.”

The core claim would be that the logo you are using is similar enough that it causes confusion among consumers.

Trademark infringement lawsuits have two distinct qualities – they are long, and they are expensive.

A business can end up paying hundreds of thousands of pounds even if it “wins” the lawsuit. By conducting a trademark search before filing an application, most businesses can avoid this problem.


Step Two : Read the ‘Rules'


Trademarking a logoNext, you must determine if the logo you have in mind will meet the requirements of the Intellectual Property Office. They will not accept logo filings with the following issues:

•    Logos which include generic descriptions such as “Thick Creamy Cheese”

•    Logos based on words already used in your business niche

•    Logos that are not unique and distinctive

•    Logos that are three-dimensional shapes

•    Logos containing offensive words or images

•    Logos that are, or represent items or services, against the law

•    Logos which include deceptive words, such as “all organic” for a processed food


Step Three – Pick a Class


Thirdly, you must choose the class of goods or services for the mark. There are 45 classes and each represents a different area of commerce. For example, class 8 covers any trademarks applicable to razors. When filing for registration, you should select as many classes as are relevant to the logo to obtain as much legal protection as possible.

Why are classes used in the trademark process?

Classes prevent companies from overreaching with their registrations. Trademarks are intended to help companies protect their intellectual property, but may not hinder competition in an unrelated niche.

For example, a consumer seeing the trademarked phrase “” on a brown box in the post is going to know from which company the package was sent.

Related:   12 Tips For Increasing Productivity When Working On Your Own has a clear right to that usage. However, this does not prevent a company named, which provides South American tours, from using the word “Amazon” in its logo.

That prohibition would be ludicrous – and the use of classes is how the problem is avoided. The vacation company would register its logo in the class for travel, while the online retailer would register in the class for online services.


Step Four – Application


Step four is the actual filing of a trademark application with the Intellectual Property Office. The cost in the UK is £170 for one class, plus another £50 for each extra class.

The application must be completed online. In truth, there is no “application” per se. Instead, you are walked through an online questionnaire, which makes things very simple and straightforward. The process begins here:


Step Five – Approval


Once the filing process is complete, the IPO will assign an examiner to the case. This individual will review the application and provide you with written correspondence within 10 business days, indicating whether the logo will be approved.

If it is rejected, you will be told why and given the opportunity to respond. If the registration is approved, the logo will be published in a trademark journal to allow other businesses to object to the filing. Objections are rare.

The entire process should take about three months if everything goes smoothly.


The Importance Of Registering


Every business should trademark its logo design; it’s name and other important slogans and brand assets. The expense of creating public records of the marks is small, compared to the profits that could be lost if competitors try to infringe on your market and credibility. Hopefully, this article will help you learn how to trademark a logo ensuring your business is protected in future.




  1. Frey

    Thankyou for tips on how to trademarks a logo design. your article is very helpful and very informative, registering our business logo is also needed to protect from theft and plagitaism. I will also register my trademark logo.

  2. Kreygasm Twitch

    Great website for them who want to write something

  3. Beerz

    Great article but there is one very important thing you left out and this whole post was a little misleading on. TM marks. All this is applicable for the Registered Trademark ® (R) or RTM you mentioned. However, simply adding a TM to any logo you create or have created is allowable simply for having created it. It’s your way of saying this mark belongs to me. I created it. I own it. Since you haven’t gone through the legal process of registering that mark, a TM has less protections and could possibly result in you becoming involved in defending a lawsuit later but for most businesses, like small local businesses, that would never happen. For companies who really have something to protect, registering the ® (R) trademark is very important and should not be skipped. But small businesses, like Ted Lastname Accountant, a TM might not create any conflicts later and a TM would be fine. …another way to look at it would be that a TM mark can be used freely until your (R) mark is approved by the trademark office of your country or international trademark office.

    • Stuart

      Thanks for commenting – very useful to remember!

  4. J. Cornier

    This was helpful. Thanks

  5. Jason Lane

    Great! Your tips are very useful. I’ll try them immediately.

  6. Jason Lane

    Great! Your tips are very useful. I’ll try them immediately.

  7. Júlio augusto


  8. Bogdan Wrzesinski

    “In Search of Excellence” — Thank You! ♛♥♪♥

  9. Jason Lane

    Great! Your tips are very useful. I’ll try them immediately.

  10. Terry Wilson

    Some of these spot on comments will be very helpful for entrepreneurs. Great blog!

  11. Jaie Hart

    Excellent! Thank you so much!

  12. RitaAnn~

    Thanks for the information. Very informative and a MUST read for those just starting out online.

  13. David Shiffman

    Very informative. I definitely need to do this for my logo too.

  14. Tammie

    Awesome Information… Thanks so much..

  15. Brian Hughes

    Great post! I need to do this for my logo.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.