The following is an edited transcript of my video, Protecting Words vs. Logos.
One of the most popular questions I get asked among new or prospective clients is about filing at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a word versus a logo. It is only natural that many people think if the logo encompasses the words, they could save money and just protect the logo with one firing and that would encompass the words. And while it is true that protecting the logo does give some protection for the words, there are limitations. I want to explain why protecting the words is actually more important, almost always, than protecting the logo.
When you protect the words alone by themselves, it’s called a ‘standard character’ trademark application. And protecting the words alone means that all fonts, colors, designs, and uses of those words are covered in the scope of the trademark registration. So that’s more meaningful when it comes to domain names, it’s more meaningful when it comes to social media protection, and it’s more meaningful when it comes to all protection. Because whether it’s in the logo or not in the logo, the words are covered. And logos have a greater tendency to evolve or change or get tweaked over time. So that is why I almost always recommend that the words are more important than the logo.
However, there are unique circumstances where that might not be the case. And when the logo is creative and unique and a nice design, it is valuable to protect the logo separately. So for example, the Amazon logo. If you recall, the Amazon logo is a lowercase lettering, Amazon, with a yellow arrow curved underneath it that goes from the A to the Z. In some ways it creates a smile face, in some ways it creates a going from A to Z idea. And because that logo is creative and very good, it’s definitely worth protecting separately. Even though the most dominant element of that logo is the word Amazon itself and the word Amazon should be protected in a standard character registration covering it no matter how it’s used – in any font, upper case, lower case, any color, et cetera. So Amazon is a good example of when a logo and the words should both be protected in two separate applications.
For clients, we’are constantly providing them feedback and advice over these issues. Of course, budgets play a factor in the decision. Often we recommend that if a brand owner can’t afford to do it at all at the start, then begin with the words because they’re generally more important, and then come back later and protect the logo.
If you have any questions about your brand and what needs to be protected, you can reach out to me at erikpelton.com, look for the “Connect with Us” on the top right.