How to Copyright a Logo by Myself

By Cindy Hill

A logo, like any other artistic image, is protected by copyright law as soon as it's drawn, but registering the copyright for your logo with the U.S. Copyright Office allows you to enforce the copyright in court, and it is simple enough to do by yourself. Registering the copyright on your logo won't protect your business from others who manufacture knock-off goods sold with a similar logo. Registering your logo as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in addition to registering a copyright of the design will further protect your business.

Step 1

Access the U.S. Copyright Office webpage and check the current fee schedule for electronic filing. The fees change regularly. Electronic filing is much less expensive than mailing in the hard copy forms, even when you are filing hard copy renderings of artwork.

Step 2

Click on the electronic copyright registration icon on the main screen of the website and complete the online form required for a basic filing. Indicate that you will be submitting your materials for deposit by hard copy and make the appropriate online payment based on the fee schedule. Submit the electronic filing form.

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Step 3

Mail two copies of your logo artwork to the U.S. Copyright Office at the address shown on the form you completed on their website. You will receive an email or a hard copy certificate of registration; the copyright registration is valid as soon as it is received by the U.S. Copyright Office.

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Difference Between a Logo & Trademark

Trademarks include company names, logos, slogans and designs used to identify and distinguish a company's goods in its business trade. The physical mark can be a word, sign, symbol or design that identifies the trademark owner. A trademark must be a unique identifying mark, specifically associated with the goods or services that a company offers in commercial trade. One type of trademark includes the company logo. A logo can qualify as a trademark -- if it meets the minimum requirements. To qualify as a trademark, a logo must be a unique mark used to identify and distinguish the company's goods or services offered in the marketplace. Strong logos often become easily recognizable trademarks throughout society.

How to Find Copyrighted or Trademark Phrases

Before using a specific phrase in your own work or for profit, it is important to check whether your choice of phrase is copyrighted or trademarked. You might face a civil lawsuit if you use a copyrighted or trademarked phrase without the owner's permission. A copyright grants legal protection to an artist's work and a trademark protects a phrase, a word, a symbol, a design or a combination of those elements that the public identifies with a specific person, business or organization. For example, a business slogan would be trademarked, but a distinct phrase that is part of a literary work would be copyrighted. Registration of a copyright or trademark allows the owner to take legal action against unauthorized use. Copyrighted phrases are usually registered with the United States Copyright Office, and trademarked phrases are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

How to Copyright a Logo on Shirts

As established under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, copyright promotes creativity by giving creators exclusive rights to profit from their work and protecting it against infringement. As the Copyright Office explains, this protection extends to original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, such as a book, movie, painting, and even a design printed on a T-shirt. However, not every logo on a tee is eligible for copyright protection.


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