Is your professional logo your intellectual property?
2nd November 2010
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 You have a logo, now what?

Your business’ logo, however well designed, is something that currently stands or will stand, for you and what you sell in the mind of the public.

It is acting or will act as a trade mark and you have entered (perhaps unknowingly) the world of trade marks and trade mark law. In many cases it really does not matter whether you think you are using a trade mark, it is what other people think you are doing that counts.

Questions to ask before you settle on your logo:

  1. Can you use it with low risk of upsetting someone else? This needs to be asked because even though you have had the logo designed for you it does not mean somebody else’s rights could not be infringed by you using your new logo. The two rights that could be infringed are given by registered trade marks and/or unregistered trade marks. It is possible to infringe both.
  2. Is your trade mark similar to other trade marks? Trade marks can be searched and a view taken as to whether your logo is anybody else’s registered trade mark or pending application for trade mark infringement to occur. Unregistered trade mark rights are more difficult to search for but, fortunately, people generally only have unregistered trade mark rights where their logo or brand is well known. If, therefore, when presented with your new logo it brings to mind one of your competitors, beware!
  3. Should you seek registered protection? Once you have decided that adoption of your new logo is of sufficiently low risk to be acceptable, you should decide whether you should seek registered protection for the logo so that you have the maximum chance of being able to stop some third party adopting and using a logo similar to yours. If you decide you do want protection then applying for trade mark registration is often appropriate. Certain marks or logos are not likely to prove registerable.

The World of Intellectual Property

Making the assessment as to whether you can use your new logo and/or seeking to protect your logo can seem very daunting and the world of Intellectual Property may be regarded as obscure and for many not one they wish to explore in any depth. Professional advice and assistance can be obtained from specialist advisors such as trade mark attorneys. Generally they will provide at least a little time at the beginning of the process for free so that both you and they can decide whether they can help you and/or whether you both wish to work together. Professional advice can be very useful during the development of a logo, it does not have to wait for the final version of the logo to be produced.

Three final paragraphs of warning in connection with Intellectual Property:

1. Ensure that when you do have your logo professionally designed, or indeed designed by anyone, the copyright in that logo is assigned to you once the logo is complete and you have paid the graphic designer for their services. This is not necessarily automatic. Check with the graphic designer and, if their terms of business are not explicit on this point, make it a condition of your doing business with them.

2. This does not really apply to logos but is important. Just because your company name is registered at Companies House and you have a company number, you cannot necessarily either use that name or stop others using a very similar or identical name. All the above considerations also apply to company and trading names.

3. Your Intellectual Property, and trade mark(s) specifically, are assets of your business. Even though you cannot fall over them in the dark, Intellectual Property rights are items of property and they have value (in some cases more than all the tangible assets of a business). Protect that property as you would any other asset of your business. 

If you would like to know more then please email Antony Gallafent here or go to their website

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