What is a Trademark Logo?

A trademark logo is a design or symbol which represents a brand or organization. The McDonald’s® golden arches, the Nike® swoosh, and the Apple® “missing bite” apple logo are all examples of a trademark logo. Much like trademarking your business or organization’s name and slogan, trademarking a logo is imperative in protecting your intellectual property.

Trademarking a logo is very important because in some instances your customers will be able to identify your brand from your logo alone. Take McDonald’s, for example. If the McDonald’s golden arches were not trademarked, another restaurant could create a similar yellow arch logo and profit off of potential customer confusion – for example, when customers see the copycat restaurant’s yellow arches from the side of the road and stop there instead of at McDonald’s.

The Nike® swoosh is another example of the importance of trademarking a logo. The Nike® swoosh is so identifiable that people will know the product is a Nike product even if the name “Nike” isn’t anywhere on the product.

As a trademark lawyer, a common question my clients ask me is if they can trademark their name and logo under the same application. In many cases, I strongly advise against it. If you were to trademark your logo and name under one application, you would only have legal rights to the name and logo when they are conjoined in the precise manner appearing in your trademark application. Were the logo or name of your business to appear on their own in marketing materials, for example, neither would have protection.

Let’s say, for instance, we own a company called “Magic Dust” which makes basketballs. Let’s also imagine we have designed a unique logo for our company, which appears transparently behind the phrase “Magic Dust”. By registering the logo and the words “Magic Dust” as separate trademarks, we will not only have legal rights to both trademarks individually (meaning they can be used on their own), but we will also be able to move our logo around in relation to our business name in any manner we please. The basketball could be moved side-to-side, above or below our name and we’d still have full legal protection. Again, if we were to file one application and register the logo and name together we would always have to use them in the exact manner they appeared in our trademark application to receive protection.

A good logo can aid in creating brand awareness and recognition in the marketplace. Protecting your logo with a trademark is crucial in maintaining the brand equity it can help to build. Our blog highlights additional tips in trademarking a logo.