Selling a Trademarked Logo

by Timothy Mucciante Google

Although it was 1584 when one of the first trademark infringement cases occurred, the word "logo" dates back to ancient Greece. The first ever registered logo was for Sampson Rope in 1884, and was an image of Sampson slaying a lion. Today, logos are still used to distinguish one business or brand from another, reducing the risk of consumers confusing brand identity in the marketplace. A logo is an asset to any organization, and may be bought and sold.

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Logo Trademark Sale

The sale of a logo is like the sale of any other asset. A buyer and a seller agree on the terms and conditions of the sale, which will include the price and when the price will be paid. The agreement may be documented in a sales contract. This contract itself, however, does not change the USPTO trademark ownership record. In order for that to happen, the logo's buyer, with the seller's cooperation, must work with the USPTO to execute the logo ownership change.

Assignment Procedure

The USPTO process for logo ownership assignment may be done either online or by paper filing. The Assignment Recordation Branch is the department that handles ownership assignment of logos and other trademarks. An assignment may occur only after the trademark of the logo has been granted, although a sales contract for the transfer of the logo's ownership could be signed before the trademark is actually granted. A conditional assignment is also possible, where one party may assign the ownership of a logo to another, but it is contingent on some event to occur, like payment of the sale price.

Online Filing of Logo Assignment

The online system for trademark assignments may be accessed through the USPTO Home Page. The online assignment process starts with completing the Recordation Form Cover Sheet. The USPTO charges a fee for the requested ownership change. By accepting the filed assignment, the USPTO is making no judgement as to the validity of the assignment or the underlying logo --- the filing simply makes a record of the transaction.

Paper Filing of Logo Assignment

The USPTO website has a link to the paper form -- PTO-TM-1594 -- which may be printed out. The basic information used for the online form is also required for the paper form, although the format is slightly different. You would send the cover sheet to the ARB at the address listed on its website, together with the applicable fee. As with the online filing, USPTO's acceptance of the filing does not reflect any opinion about the validity of the assignment.