Let’s talk about how to work with your graphic designer to create a logo for your trademark. Before my graphic designer readers slip into panic + frenzy, let me say this…
Your graphic designer is not responsible for creating a logo suitable for trademark registration. Your designer was hired to create a logo for you.
What do I mean?
When you sign the dotted line with your graphic designer they gave you a promise to create a logo that you love. They should have also promised not to duplicate the work that they did for you, for another client.
Your graphic designer cannot promise:
- that your logo is unique from other logos out there in the whole wide universe
- that your brand name is available and does not infringe on someone else’s right
- that your logo can actually be registered as a trademark
Your graphic designer is not an attorney. Stop putting that pressure on them. Your attorney can conduct a trademark search and analysis to provide you (and your designer) direction on creating a logo that is a viable trademark.
A trademark search and analysis can tell you:
- if the design of your logo potentially infringes on registered and pending trademarks
- if your brand’s name potentially infringes on registered and pending trademarks
- if your design and brand name actually meet the Lanham Act criteria for what can and cannot be registered as a trademark (discussed here)
So, what CAN you do?
As always, just because you need an attorney to do the heavy lifting, doesn’t mean that you can’t do some of the preliminary work on your own:
Ask your designer if the logo was created from vector files, or completely from scratch. More than likely, it was created from vector files. Ask to see the original vector files. You will want to do a side by side comparison of the vectors with your logo. Make sure that the designer manipulated the vectors enough to provide you with a logo that doesn’t mirror it’s original. They can manipulate vector files by playing with color, texture, combining various vectors, and splitting apart their elements.
If your logo design looks too close to the original vector then have them tweak it. Think about it. Anyone can purchase a vector. If 50 other people purchased the same file, and created a logo that remains substantially similar to the original…then none of those peeps have unique logos.
I know that you’ve seen the SM or TM insignia on a logo. SM stands for service mark, and means that you provide a service. TM stands for a trade mark, and means that you sell a product or good. It does not mean that you’ve actually registered your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It puts the public on notice that you intend to treat this design as a trademark. Ask your designer to add the appropriate mark (SM or TM) to your final logo design.
It’s time to get hands on with your design team. I want to hear from you. Leave your comments below.