Trademarks

gga-blog-trademarksDo you know the difference between a “logo” and a “logotype”?

Logotypes are the words of a trademark; usually an adaptation or arrangement of a specific font.

Logos are the artistic or graphic elements of a trademark.

Do you know the difference between a ™ Trademark, a ® Registered Trademark, and a © Copyright notice?

The ™ mark places the public on notice that the logo and/or logotype comprise a trademark; the ™ mark is primarily protected by state laws. The ® mark means the same as above except that the trademark is a Federally registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; and entitled to protection and remedies under U.S. Federal trademark laws.

Trademarks are expressions of identity. A good example is the “AT&T” trademark. The round “globe artwork” is the logo and the “at&t” font arrangement is the logotype.

A trademark identifies the source of the product or service. The modern trademark is credited to medieval merchants of Europe. Common medieval folk could not read or write, so merchants and craftsmen placed unique artwork designs on their signs to: 1) show the nature of their businesses and 2) distinguish between similar merchants and craftsmen in the same businesses. In time, the unique artwork was placed on the products to identify the source of the product.

Purchased products bearing the unique artwork (trademark) were effective brand advertisements. The producer of a product could be identified by the unique “trademark” on the product, and rewarded with new customers who saw the product before ever visiting the merchant or craftsmen’s place of business.

A trademark can build brand brand loyalty and awareness; because consumers reward good products and services with repeat business and referrals.

In order for a “Logo or Logotype” to be protected by State or Federal trademark laws – the logo must be in use. A trademark that is never used can not suffer a trademark infringement. The unpublished logos in my sketch books and hard drives do not have trademark protection – only copyright protection. Trademark protection begins when the trademark is used in a market place.

Trademarks are industry specific too. For example: there should be no identity conflict between a BYTE computer company and a BYTE pizza business because of their separate industries. In cases of conflict the legal tests are: who’s trademark was first to the market, and, what is the likelihood of consumer confusion?

For me, the “design” test of a logo is whether the logo design is readable, clear and appealing, in a one-color scheme, at a reduced (postage stamp) size. Under those conditions, if it is readable and clear – it passes the logo design test.

A trademark “graphic standard” is a critical factor that is often ignored by businesses. A graphic standard shows the “do’s and don’ts” of logo use. Never mutilate a logo – always follow the logo standards. Putting your trademark on your message and products should conform to your established graphic standard. History has proven that great advertising and marketing advantages flow from this simple principle.

Think of your trademark as your name, with a reputation to grow and protect.