Trademark or Copyright A Logo? The Right IP for You

‘Can I copyright my logo?’

…is an extremely common question for those who are seeking to protect their logo. Seeking IP protection for a creative asset is a step in the right direction, however companies must determine the right scope of protection as each type of IP protection serves different purposes.

That being said, copyright protection is not for logos. Instead, logos are trademarked. Therefore, a company seeking to protect their logo must file a trademark application should they wish to protect the design, colour, graphic or letters associated with their brand. 

Why Trademark Protection for Logos? 

A trademark can be a logo, slogan, word, colour, sound, letter, shape, design, phrase, tagline or a combination of these. The purpose of a trademark is to distinguish a good or service in the market from others, meaning trademarks serve to associate the goods or service sold by a company with their brand. When a trademark is legally registered, signalled by the ® symbol, it is protected by intellectual property law and cannot be utilised by third parties unless licensed by its rightful owner. 

We understand that logos work to firstly, stand out from the rest of the competition in the market and secondly, to build brand association and reputation. In view of this, trademark is the right type of IP protection for logos as the laws governing trademark protection will deter third parties from stealing the goodwill of your brand and consequently, prevent them from selling similar goods or services in the market. 

Still, Can I Copyright A Logo? 

A copyright protects original works of authorship, including artworks, novels, movies, songs, photographs, plays, sound recordings, computer software, architectural drawings and so on. It is important to recognise copyright protection as governed by a set of laws separate from trademark protection. An original work under copyright protection cannot be copied or reproduced by a third party unless licensed by the owner. 

Why is copyright protection unsuitable for logos? As detailed above, copyright laws are not concerned with protecting goods or services sold in a market. Logos can be original, artistic creations, but copyright law will not reprimand those who steal your logo and sell similar goods and services under the guise of your brand. Trademark protection on the other hand, will give a company the legal right to sue ‘copycats’ for trademark infringement under these circumstances. 

Logos can be both trademarked and copyrighted — in fact, many multinationals choose to protect their logo under both scopes of IP protection as a precautionary measure. However, logos are most commonly registered as trademarks as trademarks provide the appropriate protection for goods and services sold by a company which copyright protection does not offer. 

We know intellectual property rights can be confusing – that’s why it’s important to discuss your concerns with an IP professional first, to determine your plan of action later. Our experienced team at Quality Oracle are at the helm to quell your IP worries. Get in touch for a free consultation today.