So you’ve finally put the finishing touches on a logo that your brand’s essence. Congratulations! But what happens if someone has already registered that logo? Should you hire an attorney, or just start building a new logo from scratch? How would you even know if the logo was taken already?
No need to fear. In all likelihood, you’re fine. You just need to take a few simple steps to see if your logo already exists.
You are most likely to have an issue anytime your logo or visual identity could be interpreted as misleading the market. If a competitor believes your logo is designed to make you look like them, you may be in trouble. You should always start by lining up every industry logo you can find and seeing how yours compares. If you think that the average consumer can tell the difference between your brand and your competitor’s, you’re likely fine! If you think that you’re starting to look too much like your biggest rival, it may be time to find a new mark.
Did inspiration for your new mark strike while you were browsing Reddit or clicking around Behance? Searching the web for your logo will help you find anyone you may have copied, even accidentally. Simply do a reverse image search on Google to see if anyone has posted this mark online before. This also helps supplement steps one and three with more images similar to your new design.
Once you’ve scanned your industry for similar logos, you’ll need to check other registered trademarks. Luckily, this process is extremely simple. Just go to the US Patent Office Website to conduct a trademark search. You will need to:
This should allow you to see marks and logos in your industry that you may have missed in step one and it will help you find marks that are similar to yours so you know where your logo stacks up. If you think your logo is distinct, register it and file your own trademark! If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
If you’re still unsure after taking steps one, two, and three, you’re totally in the right to contact an attorney who can help walk you through this process. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to find potential marks that could be interfering with your new brand, so it’s important to do your due diligence. Finding a great intellectual property lawyer can help, but isn’t always necessary. If you came up empty on slots 1-3 and you’re not a major corporation, hiring a lawyer may be overkill.