Logo as a Trademark – Make Sure to Own Copyright As Well
In general, a trademark can be 1) a standard character mark or 2) a stylized mark. A standard character mark typically consists of one or more words. A stylized mark can include words, but also includes a specific font, layout, color scheme, and/or logo. A stylized mark can also just consist of a logo without words, such as the Nike swoosh (checkmark). It is common practice for an outside party, such as a graphic designer, to create the logo or design of a trademark. When that happens, it is extremely important to have an agreement in place with the outside party that assigns the copyright of the logo or design to the business or trademark owner who will actually use the mark. If an agreement is not in place (and if the creation of the logo falls outside of the “work-for-hire” copyright doctrine), then the third party owns the logo by default as the author or creator of the logo. When clients come to us with a logo they want to use as a trademark, one of our first questions is always, “Who created this logo?” and if a third party did, then we typically prepare an assignment to assign ownership to the trademark owner. If you are interested in learning more, or would like help with your trademarks, please contact me.