How Do I Copyright a Name, Title, Slogan or Logo?

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When authors and/or designers create, they wish to know what they've created is protected. There are different ways to protect what a person or business creates. While names, titles, slogans and logos can't be copyrighted as the publications they represent can, they can be trademarked.

Check the copyright office requirements. When authors or musicians create a book, a play, a short story, an album or song, they have exclusive rights to their work, even if the author does not register the work with the copyright office. However, while the work can be officially copyrighted, a specific title cannot be copyrighted under normal circumstances.

Trademark your slogan or logo. Fast food companies and other businesses spend an enormous amount of money perfecting slogans that stick in a customer's mind and tie the slogan with a business or product. This is equally true of logos. While slogans or logos cannot be copyrighted, they can be trademarked. If the slogan or logo is unique, you can add the (™) trademark symbol. This marks the slogan or logo as yours alone. Since this symbol is not a registered trademark, if it is copied, you have to prove you used the slogan or logo first to have a legal finding in your favor.

Search the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) data base of the United States Patent and Trademark Office online to make sure your slogan or logo is unique.

Consult an attorney. While you can check the trademark records online, before seeking to trademark your title, slogan or logo, consult an attorney with knowledge of trademarks and patents. The attorney can help you with the research to make sure what you seek to trademark is unique and help you with all the paperwork necessary to apply for a trademark.

Register your trademark. While you do not need to register your slogan or logo, it does provide added protection. However, the slogan or logo has to be more than advertising. It has to be identified with a particular product or business. The symbol for a registered trademark is ® and can be obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Defend your slogan or logo. Once a slogan or logo has trademark protection, make sure no one uses that slogan or logo without permission. If another person or business seeks to use it, the person, business or publisher that owns the rights can defend the exclusive right to that slogan or logo in court. They can stop the use of a slogan or logo that in whole or in part duplicates a trademarked slogan. If a slogan or logo is not defended and it goes into general usage, protections can be lost.

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About the Author

Carolyn Scheidies has been writing professionally since 1994. She writes a column for the “Kearney Hub” and her latest book is “From the Ashes.” She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she has also lectured in the media department.

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