How To Copyright a Logo
A logo is an integral element of your brand identity. It has power, so much so that a consumer should be able to see your logo and then instantly recognize the product or service it represents— that is the power of branding.
In order to harness and take advantage of this massive marketing tool, you want to protect your logo. Read through this guide so you’re done wondering “how do I copyright my logo?”
According to Entrepreneur’s dictionary, “A logo is a recognizable graphic design element, often including a name, symbol or trademark, representing an organization or product.” This logo is protected by means of a copyright, which is defined as, “A form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.”
So, now that you know what a copyright is, you’re still pondering “how do I copyright my logo?” Is it a long legal process, filled with fees and paperwork? It doesn’t have to be. According to Copyright.gov, your work, or the logo you now own because you’ve hired someone to create it for you, is under U.S. copyright protection the moment it’s created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
U.S. law states that copyright is secured automatically when a work is created, and a work is “created” when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. “Copies” are defined as material objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm.
When it comes to intellectual property and art, it’s vital to read the fine print and use a contract. Chances are you’ve used a third-party freelancer or an independent contractor, such as a freelance graphic designer to create the logo for your business. Always, and I mean always use a contract when dealing with third parties and the exchange of artistic property. Better yet, always use a contract. This protects everyone involved and ensures every party knows their rights and responsibilities. Once money is exchanged, the logo will belong to you, the business owner and employer. The logo is now yours; you, the employer are considered to be the author of the logo, and the copyright belongs to you.
Because copyright is inherent, copyright registration is more of a legal formality. However, if you want to make a public record of your copyright, then you must apply to register it. You can apply for a copyright online or via a paper application. The online application has a lower application fee, expedited processing time and the ability to track the status of your copyright application.
You can create a copyrighted version of your logo by attaching the following three elements to a visual copy of the work: The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word “Copyright” or the abbreviation “Copr.”; the year of first publication of the work; and the name of the owner of copyright.