McDonald's logo on a McDonald's restaurant

Protect your brand by securing your logo as a trademark

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. Registering trademarks for both word marks and logos/images as part of your brand assets is best practice to ensure comprehensive trademark protection.
  2. Registering your logo as a trademark signals to the market that you consider your logo to be a valuable business asset and ensures exclusivity and protection for your brand.
  3. A registered trademark logo can offer brand protection when words can’t, as it protects the overall appearance of the mark and may discourage competitors from using similar words or images.

Full Article

The comprehensive protection of a brand necessitates registering both word marks and logos or images (device marks) as trademarks. Word mark registration safeguards the words themselves, irrespective of format. In contrast, logo registration underscores the logo’s value and importance to a business, protecting against potential infringements from confusingly similar competitor logos. Registering a logo confers dual benefits: ensuring exclusivity in its use and creating an iconic symbol readily associated with the brand.

Logos convey a brand’s qualities, values, and identity, such as luxury, quality assurance, reliability, or affordability. Registering a trademark logo confirms exclusive proprietorship and protection against competitors’ similar designs that could deceive customers. For instance, Pandora’s blue-shaded ‘P’ logo was deemed too similar to PayPal’s blue double ‘P’ image, prompting a court-mandated redesign to avoid confusion.

Securing exclusive rights for a brand name poses challenges, as predicting potential copying or inspiration from a logo is impossible. Registering a logo with the appropriate authorities offers protection beyond word marks and legal recourse against unauthorised use. Although descriptive or generic names accurately convey provided services, they may not be registrable trademarks due to uniqueness requirements. In such cases, logo registration grants some degree of trademark protection for a brand’s identity.

While word mark registration is generally advised for maximum protection, logo registration can save costs and deter competitors from using similar brands or logos. However, registering a logo resembling an existing trademark may prompt objections or legal opposition from the Intellectual Property Office.

Certain trademarks, including descriptive marks lacking distinctiveness, laudatory phrases, offensive language, and confusingly similar pre-existing trademarked symbols, cannot be protected. Effective trademarks for registration are inventive, unique, and compelling, such as logos with distinct imagery and innovative word combinations. Visual elements often provide higher levels of distinction, making them ideal candidates for trademark registration.

Upon successful logo registration, the Registered Symbol (®) may be used, indicating legal action in the event of copying and warning competitors of its protected status. Displaying the ® symbol also signifies the seriousness with which a brand’s intellectual property rights are regarded.