The majority of people have heard about businesses trade marking their logo, fewer know that often a logo can become registered intellectual property (IP) by registering it as a design also.
Registered design protects the appearance of something, which is where logos can fit in.
Registering your business’ IP, whether through registering a trade mark, registered design or both, can protect your brand identity and prevent others from using your logo without your permission. Additionally, it can help you to build up a reputation for your business, create a strong brand image; improving recognition and trust.
A trade mark or registered design ( sometimes referred to as industrial designs) can also make it easier for you to take legal action against anyone who uses your logo without your permission. This often deters others from trying to copy or use your logo without your consent.
A logo registered through design can be referred to as a logomark. A logomark is used to enhance brand identity and is an image or symbol used to represent a company. Logomarks do not usually have the company name attached and can give designers the opportunity to create strong branding identity.
In terms of the benefits of registering your logo as a trade mark or as a design mark the following apply:
There are many benefits to trademarking your logo and/ registering it as a design at the Intellectual Property Office ( IPO), including deterring others from using it without permission and helping to build brand recognition and trust. There are additional benefits to consider also:
1. A trademark and registered design can be valuable asset
Your registered logo can be a valuable asset, particularly if it is well-known and recognisable. This value can be leveraged to secure loans, licences, and other business opportunities. If you were to consider selling your business, you would need to ensure that there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent others damaging your reputation or taking business from you by having similar/the same branding. Registering the IP within your business creates a valuable asset at anything, but if you are looking to source finance or merge or sell your business these are key times to look to registering what your business already has.
2. It can help you build brand recognition
A trademark or logo design mark can help you build brand recognition by associating your logo with your company or product. When people see your logo, they should instantly think of your brand. This association can be extremely valuable in the marketplace. Logos can be just as powerful as when you register a business name.
3. It can help you enforce your rights
If someone uses your logo design registration or your trademarked logo without permission, you can take legal action to stop them. This can help deter others from using your logo without permission and help to protect your investment. If a logo is used which is not registered either as a trade mark or a registered design it can be very difficult to prove that you owned it first. You are relying on the common law tort of passing off which is much harder to prove than the exclusive rights you gain by registering a logo as a design or trade mark.
4. Registering your logo IP can allow it to be used as collateral for finance
A trademark or registered design can be a powerful asset for a business. It can help you to build your brand and to protect your investment in your business. A trademark can also be used as collateral for loans, which can help you to get the funding you need to grow your business. If you are looking for investment to your business, it is a far lower risk to invest in a business which already has some of its branding protected. Often a logo will conjure up the values and priorities of a company, you do not want another business to be able to use this and benefit from the goodwill you’ve been building.
A trade mark once registered can last indefinitely. As the owner of a trademarked logo, you have the exclusive right to use it for as long as you want. This means that you can continue to use your logo even if it goes out of style or falls out of favour with the public. You must however have used your logo within the classes (areas) it is registered and renew the trademark with the relevant fees every 10 years.
When you register a logo through its design it can last up to 25 years from the date of registration subject to the payment of the 5-yearly renewal fees.
Why register a logomark?
Registering a logo as a logo mark or registered design can project a strong visual appearance for your business and have a big impact upon your brand’s identity. These marks tend to be more abstract and as they protect the shape or appearance, they do not tend to have a brand name attached to them. Well recognised logos protected in this way include Apple, Pepsi and Facebook. If you are a smaller business you may want your name attached to your logo to get your name out there so this is where you need to consider registering a logo as a trade mark also.
Do you need to trade mark and design register a logo?
Having a logo design registration as well as logo trade mark registration may offer additional benefits. While design rights are often overlooked by business owners who are seeking to protect their intellectual investments in new products or new technologies. Many savvy business owners are using this IP tool to give them additional protection and recognition as a brand.
The use of the design is not tied to any class of goods so this may be used as a way to gaining exclusive rights to a design of a logo without specifying each and every product or service you offer in terms of its classes. Many would see this as a wider level of protection.
As a whole registering a logo design can be much quicker than the trade mark equivalent process. This is partly due to the lack of lengthy review by the design registry.
Additionally, continuous usage of the design is not necessary for the coverage of 25 years unlike the trade mark equivalent. So, although a registered trade mark of a logo can last much longer (indefinitely) a registered design of a logo will last 25 years. Many view this length of time far long enough to establish good reputation within the industry and this can also be used as evidence towards the brand prestige and association if it is viewed that hasn’t been established enough for a trade mark to be registered.
Adding a design registration is likely to give your business a competitive edge by making it more distinctive and attractive to customers. A design adds an additional layer to a business’ brand making it instantly recognisable.
A logo is often registered as a trade mark but it is likely to be able to be registered as a registered design also. Sometimes a logo is not sufficiently distinctive to be able to be registered as a trade mark, it may still be possible to register it as a design.
As the test for design registration (same overall impression) is different to the main test for trade mark infringement (confusing similarity), a registered design can therefore offer useful additional protection and benefits.
The moral of this story…ensure your business’ IP is registered by registering your logo, whether as a trade mark, registered design or both.
If you would like to know more about registering your logo either as a trade mark or as a registered design, or would like to discuss your options and business’ Intellectual Property generally please email us at email@example.com or book in with our IP Manager Mitch on https://calendly.com/mitch-183.
Written by Michaela Cusack, Director at NBRG