Clients frequently ask me whether they should focus on obtaining a registration for their name or for their trademark logo. I think that most people will instinctively focus on the logo first. That may be because more work is goes into creating them. And they are often very distinctive, too. In many cases, they can actually include the words or name of the business that they are associated with. However, obtaining a registration for a trademark logo is typically a secondary concern. In most cases, a business will benefit more from obtaining a “standard character mark” registration for its name.
The Standard Character Mark
When filing a trademark application, there are different types of marks that you can apply to register. A standard character mark is one type, which how you get protection for a word or several words. The word mark in this type of application is featured in all capital letters. If the application matures into a registration, then the word(s) will be protected as it is used regardless of capitalization, font, size, or color. This is different from the registration of trademark logos, because it provides more flexibility. It is that flexibility that makes the registration of a word mark more of a priority than that of logos in most cases. Once you have a registration for a word mark, then you can use the words in different ways, even by incorporating them into a logo design.
Registering a Trademark Logo
However, the registration of a trademark logo (or “design mark”) can also be an important part of protecting your brand. Many businesses use logos that do not incorporate any words. In order to get the broad protections afforded by a trademark registration, these need to be registered separately from any word marks. A trademark logo incorporating words may also be the best option if the words themselves are not distinctive enough for protection on their own. If your design mark consists of both a distinctive logo and wording, then you may want to apply to register it once you’ve received protection for the words in a standard character mark.
Remember that you must use your mark consistently when registering a trademark logo. I recently discussed how making changes to trademarks can be problematic. This is especially true for design marks. You only receive protection for the mark that you registered, not an open-ended set of variations. While amendments can be made to your application or registration, they cannot be material changes. If you are considering making changes, it would be best to consult with a trademark attorney before doing so. An attorney can advise as to whether the Trademark Office would find your changes to be acceptable.
Having Trouble Deciding Between Registering a Trademark Logo or Word Mark?
If you are looking into trademark registration, but aren’t sure whether you should apply to register for a trademark logo or a word mark, please feel free to call me at (314) 479-3668, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete the contact form found on this page to schedule your free initial consultation today. I look forward to speaking with you.