The right to use a logo to identify your business's goods is a valuable trademark right that you acquire on the date you start using the logo in business. In South Carolina, like most other states, you strengthen your trademark rights by registering your logo with the secretary of state. To obtain registration, you must submit the appropriate form with the required fee and examples of your logo as used in your business.
South Carolina Trademark Basics
South Carolina trademark law generally defines a trademark as a "word, name, symbol, or device or any combination of these" -- such as a logo -- to distinguish goods manufactured or sold by one business entity from goods manufactured or sold by another entity. In order to be a trademark, the logo must be actually used in business; you cannot simply reserve rights to the logo. If the logo is used in conjunction with providing services, South Carolina law defines this as a service mark. The property rights associated with a trademark and service mark are the same.
Use of Trademark
South Carolina trademark law recognizes three ways or affixing a logo to goods so that it can be identified as being "used" as a trademark by law. The first way to use the logo is to directly place the logo on the goods, on containers for the goods or on displays for the goods or containers. The second way is to apply the logo to any labels or tags that are affixed to the goods or containers. If it is not practical to place the logo in either of the first two ways, a third way to use the logo is to apply it to documents that are associated with either the sale or transportation of the goods.
To obtain maximum trademark protection for your logo in South Carolina, you should apply for registration of your logo with the Secretary of State. A two-page registration application form is provided on the secretary's website, along with instructions. The application requires basic identifying information about the trademark's owner, a description of the trademark and how it is used in business. The application must include the notarized signature of the trademark's owner.
Registering your logo as a trademark with the South Carolina Secretary of State gives your logo maximum trademark protection in South Carolina. However, this level of protection does not apply to use of the logo in connection with goods sold in other states. To obtain maximum trademark protection in other states, you must file an application for registration with the appropriate agency in those states where you also use your logo in business. Alternatively, you can use an online trademarking service for a nationwide registration of you trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.