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Prior to crowdSPRING, I was a lawyer for 13 years – focusing on complex commercial and intellectual property litigation.
Copyright and trademark law both protect intellectual property – but they protect different things. If a trade name or logo is protected by copyright law, is it automatically protected by trademark law?
Similarly, if you allow other parties to use your trade name or logo, make sure you carefully define how they should use the trade name or logo – and also specify any uses that are not permitted. In a later post, we’ll talk about more advanced trademark issues, including what to do if someone violates your trademark.
It is better to get your own Business Logo Designed, by professionals, to stay out from this Copyright and Trademark issues.
Tens of thousands of the world's best and most successful entrepreneurs, businesses, agencies and nonprofits rely on crowdSPRING for affordable and risk-free custom logo design, web design, a new company name or other writing and design services. Read previous post:Choosing Technologies for Your Web Startup (Part 1)You have a great idea, a viable business model, and investors lined up. It may be obvious that Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes are both made by Kellogg's, but did you know that Hot Pockets and L'Oreal share a parent company in Nestle? A ginormous number of brands are controlled by just 10 multinationals, according to this amazing infographic from French blog Convergence Alimentaire. CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misidentified General Mills as the parent company of Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes.
This is the second in what will be a regular feature in our blog discussing important legal issues that impact every small business.
Copyright protects works such as poetry, movies, writing, music, video games, videos, plays, paintings, sheet music, recorded music performances, novels, software code, sculptures, photographs, choreography, and architectural designs. A trade name or logo design might be protected by copyright law, but is not protected by trademark law unless it is actually used in commerce.


Professional search costs several hundred dollars (and can cost thousands of dollars depending on their coverage), but covers many more databases than you’ll have access to, will often include an international search, and will typically be much more thorough.
Understand the Permitted and Prohibited Uses When You Use Another Company’s trade name or logo.
And If there are other small business legal issues you’re interested in reading about, please leave a comment and let me know. This post may not address all relevant business or legal issues that are unique to your situation and you should always seek legal advice from a licensed attorney. I was impressed with how professional this site is and also the quality of work designers create. I understand that the logo does not need to be registered but what is the legal liability of not registering it? Now we can see just how many products are owned by Kraft, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg's, Mars, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, P&G and Nestle. Ninety percent of the media is now controlled by just six companies, down from 50 in 1983, according to a Frugal Dad infographic from last year.
Trademarks are names, logos, sounds, shapes, colors and even smells that distinguish the source of goods or services of one party from those of another party.
This is because trademark rights arise only through commerce (such as when you offer items for sale and use the trade name or logo in your marketing materials or on the products). NOTE: There are periodic requirements to maintain an active registration and you must follow those requirements or risk losing your trademark registration.
You can search (for free) the federal trademark database – Trademark Electronic Search System. Although more expensive than many others, this is the company I often used when working with clients on trademark matters. Often, especially when companies enter into partnership agreements with each other, the partners must use someone else’s trade name or trademark.


When a trademark is not registered, you could assert common law rights (based on case law) – these are rights you acquire through use of the logo in commerce.
The logo should be relevant to the business operations and services offered for the people. Likewise, 37 banks merged to become JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and CitiGroup in a little over two decades, as seen in this 2010 graphic from Mother Jones. Many European countries have adopted the Community Trademark (CTM) – a registration under that common system allows the enforcement of rights in all of the signatory countries. For example, if I have a small electronics store and advertise Sony products for sale, I may use the Sony logo in the advertising I place in the local paper. The CTM doesn’t replace national trademark rights in the signatory countries, but it does coexist with those rights. You can also leverage Google, Bing and other search engines to look for companies using the name you intend to use for your company or product. Don’t forget to do a domain name search to see if someone is using the name as their domain. Among other things, it notifies others that you assert rights over the trade name or logo and that you’re serious about protecting your rights.
What you do not sell to a specific client, can be pitched & sold to another business seeking a similar logo. The registration date also contains the date you first used the mark – which serves as evidence against other parties you might later allege violate your trademark rights.



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