A creative blog and artist blog featuring tips on how to sell art
Trademark and Registration of Name and Logo for Artists

Trademark and Registration of Name, Logo and Tagline for Artists

A common question we hear - especially when talking to artists just launching their business - is whether they need to register and/or trademark their name or logo.

Each situation is unique, so no one answer works for everyone (and we certainly recommend you seek legal assistance if you are unsure), but in most cases, the answer is NO.

In our experience, unless you are investing thousands or millions of dollars into a name, logo or product, you don't usually need legal protection. In an effort to be safe, not sorry, we also recommend:
  • Don't use a name that someone else is using, particularly if they are in the same country, UNLESS it is a completely different industry. For example, if you name your business "TreeTop Design" and you sell prints, you generally have no legal liability because someone else named their business "TreeTop Design" and they sell tree forts. Generally, there is no legal liability if businesses are in completely different industries.
  • It is best, after you come up with a name, to search on the internet and see if anyone else is using it. If they're in your same industry, we recommend you don't use it. It is also best to find a name that ALSO has the URL available. That can be very tough these days, but we've found it is worth it to come up with a variation on the name that does have the URL available. You can also do a trademark search using the federal trademark database (it's free!).
Beyond that, here are a few other things you should be aware of: 
  1. In the U.S., it is illegal to use the ®  symbol unless you have actually registered your name and/or logo. That is because it is a legal designation associated with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.
  2. On the other hand, the trademark ™ symbol has NO legal meaning, so anyone can use it. You may want to use this symbol if you have plans to register your name, logo, product, etc. 
  3. If you do decide to use the ™ symbol, it is typically placed in the top right corner. If that doesn't work, it can be moved to the bottom right corner.
  4. In printed materials or content where the logo appears more than once, you should use the version with the  ™  ONLY the first time. Using it multiple times in materials tends to make it look cluttered and it's not necessary for it to be displayed multiple times.
If you'd like to read more, here are a few helpful articles:
Written by Katharine Coles 010520
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