Should I register a word mark or logo?

A trade mark can be a word, logo, sound, scent, colour, and even layout of a shop. A business will want to protect its intellectual property, to help distinguish it from its competitors, and build a strong and loyal client base though a trade mark. But for most businesses, a word or logo will be the main avenue they would be looking at protecting.

For the most broad and versatile protection, then registering both the business name, and logo would be the best option and give the business the strongest protection. However, for businesses that are only initially looking to protect one or the other, then first of all it should be worth considering what your clients remember your product by. For clothing or consumables, a client will likely associate your business with a visual logo they see on a product, so that would be ideal to trade mark. On the other hand, if the client recognises your business predominantly by a name for instance for an accountants, then a trade mark for a logo would generally not be needed, and just the name would suffice.

Trade Mark Name

In most situations, trade marking the business name would be the ideal route. A trade mark of a name would give you exclusive rights to use that name, and prevents anyone from using anything identical or similar. You can present the name however you wish, with whatever type of text, and the name would be protected. Furthermore, it would be extremely rare that your business will change its name, so you could in theory protect the name indefinitely, whereas business often change logos over the years.

Trade Mark Logo

Trade Marking a logo gives you exclusive protection to the arrangement of the logo, but no exclusive rights to individual parts of it. This is relatively straight forward for designs such as Nike, as no one can use that swoosh on their products. However, for logos that incorporate the company name and image, the trade mark only protects the arrangement of the trade mark with both elements together as they were trade marked. Therefore, if your logo was an original lion with your name, a competitor could name their something almost identical, or a competing firm could use a near identical image of a lion as part of their logo.  In real terms, this means that for Toyota, if just their logo was trade marked, a competitor could use a very similar name such as Toybota, or another car manufactory named “Tamma” could use a very similar image to the circular T. Furthermore, many businesses change a logo over the years, so once they change, if they do not register their new logo, they risk losing their old trade mark for “non use” and another competitor taking over the rights to it.

So trade marking a name is best?

In general yes, if you can register both logo and business name, do both, but if your initial budget can only stretch to one filing, register the name. It gives stronger and more flexible rights over another competitor using a similar business name as yours. However, not always will registering the name be a straight forward option, as the name may be descriptive, or there may be some similarly name businesses in the market already. In that situation, some protection is better than no protection, so registering a logo will give your business peace of mind. Finally though, the decision comes down to what your business and budget extends to. Consider what you feel is the most important asset of your business that your clients remember you by. As the famous intellectual property quote by Peterson J goes, “that which is worth copying, is worth protecting”

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