Copyright Your Name and Logo

How to Protect Your Logo and Blog Name with Copyright and Trademarks

In our digital age, protecting your content online has never been more important. Luckily, you have two tools for this in the United States, copyright and trademark. Many wonder if they should copyright their site name and logo and the answer is – it depends.

While it is possible to file for a trademark, this is not a free process and can take several months, or even over a year in some cases to get approval. Thus, it’s something you need to get the ball rolling immediately, but the process itself will only take about 90 minutes.

Today, I will demonstrate how to file for a Trademark and Copyright in the United States and if you should.

Note: This article is not legal advice.

Copyright Vs. Trademark

A very big misconception is that copyrights and trademarks are the same things, but that couldn’t be more wrong. It is true that both protect your intellectual property from being used without your consent, but they protect different types of content in different ways.

Here are simple ways to explain what each one protects:

Copyright: Any original content you create on your website will be protected. This includes images, text posts, and any other content that you create to use on your website.

Trademark: Any distinguishable mark or image that represents your brand or business. These include things like your business name, logo, symbol, mascot, or any other distinguishable mark.

Wait a minute, it sounds like copyrights can cover stuff that trademarks can. No, they do not, or at least they shouldn’t if set up correctly. Let’s look at a quick example.

Here is the GreenGeeks logo:

GreenGeeks Logo

Here is an image to help visitors during one of our tutorials:

Copyrighted Image

The logo is protected by a Trademark, while the image would be covered under Copyright since it is our original content. They are both original content for your website, but you do not get the same protection level.

Some content can be shown or used under the “Fair Use” clause of Copyright law, while this is not allowed if the content is Trademark protected. Under no circumstance can the GreenGeeks logo be used without permission, but if it was just a copyright, it could be used under fair use.

The difference between the two is quite significant. Let’s take a look at how to begin filing for each one.

How to File for a Trademark

Filing a Trademark is not difficult, but due to the number of requests and the rise of online businesses that emerged from the pandemic, there is currently an unprecedented number of trademarks pending.

At the time of writing this in September 2023, they are currently reviewing applications from October 27, 2022 – November 10, 2022. Therefore, you can expect the process to take approximately a year at this time, but it can change rapidly, so plan accordingly.

Step 1: Make Sure the Content Can Be Trademarked

Since the process for a trademark can take a long time, it’s important to get it right the first time. Otherwise, you have to go through the process to try again, which means waiting several months again.

We want to avoid this so, let’s take a moment to make sure that it is possible to actually trademark your material.

Let’s say you want to trademark a business name. While you can name your business whatever you want, it has to be an original name. Otherwise, it cannot be trademarked. For example, let’s say you are opening a pizzeria.

If the name of your business was “Pizzaria” you shouldn’t bother trying to trademark it. The name is simply too generic. Now let’s say you named it something more original like “Rob’s Gourmet Pizzas.” Well, that could probably be trademarked. Assuming it is not taken.

If there is already a trademark filed, you cannot file the same one. And the hard part is that many companies and individuals will file hundreds or even thousands of trademarks to lock down a name for future use, or just so they can sell it.

Thus, it is entirely possible that you have never heard a name or term before but will find out that it has been trademarked.

I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to actually search for trademarks? You can use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This is a database of every trademark ever filed.

Essentially, you need to avoid generic names and common phrases. Once you are sure it is original, then you can begin the filing process.

Step 2: File for a Trademark

Once you are ready, you’ll need to go through the application process. This will require you to make an account for the trademarks. It is pretty standard account creation, but you will need to prove your identity.

Once you have an account, you are ready to use the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).

The application itself is not hard and actually explains every step in excruciating detail. Simply go through it and fill in all of the necessary fields.

While you can fill everything out yourself, it is worth mentioning that you may want to hire a trademark lawyer.

They can help you with the process and even file the application for you, but keep in mind they need to be paid for their services. This is on top of the application fees, which generally run from $225 to $600 per filing.

How to File a Copyright

Filing a Copyright in the US is done on a separate website, which is, thankfully, much easier to navigate. However, the process is very different. Unlike a trademark that has a single form, you need to select the correct copyright category.

Thus, let’s start with that.

Step 1: Select A Copyright Category

Visit the United States Copyright Office’s website and click on the Register Your Works option.

Register your Copyright for a name or logo

There are six categories for filing copyrights. If you submit an application under the wrong one, you will be denied and have to try again.

This also means having to pay the fee again, thus you want to get it right.

The six categories include Literary Works, Performing Music, Visual Art, Other Digital Content, Motion Pictures, and Photographs. You can click on the Learn More option for each category to find out if your content belongs there.

Learn More

Odds are if you are filing your blog content, or something related to a WordPress site, you will most likely file under the Other Digital Content category. Just remember you want to trademark your site name and logo, not copyright them.

Step 2: File A Copyright

The good news is that there is already an extremely detailed video tutorial for filing a copyright in the US. This will explain everything you’ll need to know. That said, the form is actually pretty straightforward.

Just make sure that you have access to the actual work you want to copyright. You will be asked to submit it either by uploading it or mailing it in. And that pretty much covers filing a copyright in the US.

Enforcing Your Trademark or Copyright

Once you finally get the approval for your trademark or copyright for your site name, logo, or content, you might feel like you are protected, but that’s not really the case. You see, it doesn’t actually stop anyone from using it.

The truth is that copyright and trademark infringement happens every day, and you will need to actively monitor your content. It is your responsibility to find out if someone stole your work and then act from there.

The first thing you should do is make it clear that you have a trademark or copyright filed. Most websites have a small section on their website explaining that a piece of content, name, or site logo is under copyright or has been trademarked in the US.

For instance, we have our copyright notice in the footer area:

Copyright Notice for logo and name

If you don’t have one of these visible, no one will know that the work is copyrighted. Obviously, this doesn’t actually stop theft, but it is a good deterrent. Now, if someone does steal your content, you have two paths.

The first is to contact the user and send a cease-and-desist letter. This can be done by mail or email. This is the recommended approach to start with as, in many cases, this is the quickest way to resolve the issue.

If this letter is ignored, you will need to get legal help and pursue the matter in court. As such, this can actually be a pretty expensive process that may not actually be worth pursuing if the perpetrator has few resources.

In any event, consult with a legal expert if your cease-and-desist letter is ignored.

Trademark or Copyright Your Content, Name, And Logo

Protecting your content is incredibly difficult if you do not have a legal team to help. Thus, even if you protect your site name, logo, or content with a copyright or trademark, you still need to actually monitor its usage.

With all of this said, some companies are very lax when it comes to their logo usage. After all, it is actually free advertisement if another website or influencer is using your logo in their content. As such, it can sometimes be a good thing.

In either case, I hope this article helped you learn how to file a trademark and copyright in the US.

What content did you copyright? How do you enforce your copyright or trademark?

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