How to Copyright a Logo

Two Parts:Know When to Copyright Your LogoRegister the Copyright on Your Logo

If you have created a truly unique logo for your business or organization and want to restrict others from using that logo, you might want to consider registering a copyright for it. The process itself can take a few months but is otherwise fairly easy. If anything, the hardest part of the process is knowing if and when you can copyright your logo.

Part 1

  1. Image titled Copyright a Logo Step 1
    Understand the difference between copyrights and trademarks. Logos are one of the few aspects of intellectual property that can qualify for both a copyright and a trademark. Before you go through the process of registering a copyright on your logo, make sure that you need a copyright and not a trademark.[1]
    • Copyrights are used to protect original creative works when those works are in a fixed form. Trademarks are used to protect tangible works that are used to identify a business in the marketplace.
    • Trademark is essentially used to prevent marketplace confusion. If you trademark your logo, that logo can still be used by others as long as the use of it does not make business difficult for you or confusing for potential consumers.
    • Copyrights do not protect colors, typeface, designs, and other similar attributes of the logo, but trademarks do.
    • It is difficult to copyright a logo because it needs to be classified as an undeniably original work. Since colors and typeface are not covered by copyright law, it is very difficult to achieve this level of distinction. An especially ornate or artistic logo could qualify for a copyright, though. Copyright protection will ensure that no one else, either inside or outside your market, can use your logo.
    • You can, of course, trademark your logo and copyright it. You do not need to settle for one or the other.[2]
  2. Image titled Copyright a Logo Step 2
    Know if and when you can claim copyright. Simply put, you can only claim copyright if you are the original author or creator of the logo, or if you hired another individual to create the logo with the understanding that all copyrights would be transferred to you.
    • If you hired someone to create your logo, you obtain the copyright only if the creation of that work falls within the scope of the creator's employment or if the work was specially ordered or commissioned. For commissioned work, and order for that "work made for hire" must be created and signed in writing.
    • If there are multiple minds you created the logo, the people involved in its creations are co-owners of that joint work.
    • Minors can claim copyright, but state laws regulate business dealings involving copyrights owned by minors. These regulations can vary by state, so you should contact an attorney or legal expert within your state for further information if you are a minor claiming copyright for a logo.
  3. Image titled Copyright a Logo Step 3
    Do your research on existing logos. If your logo is too similar to another logo that already exists, you might not be able to claim the copyright on that logo. To save yourself time and money, do a little digging to verify that the logo you want to copyright is, in fact, unique and open to claim.
    • You can search the U.S. Copyright Office website for currently registered trademarks. There are roughly 20 million records in the database since 1978.[3]
    • You can find the database here:
    • You can search by keyword, name, and so on. Adding search filters can make it easier to find possible records.
    • Among your search terms, consider including the term, "logo."
  4. Image titled Copyright a Logo Step 4
    Consider making an unofficial claim to your copyright. If you are serious about protecting your copyright, then you should officially register the copyright with the Library of Congress. While you wait for the Copyright Office to respond to your claim, though, there are a few unofficial ways you can protect the rights to your logo.
    • Understand the way that copyrights work. Technically, a qualifying logo is copyrighted from the moment of its tangible, physical creation. By registering your copyright, though, you have definite proof that the work belongs to you, and you can sue for copyright infringement if the time should ever come.[4]
    • Publication is one way to help verify your claim of ownership. The date your logo is first published publicly will mark the date during which that logo first made a public appearance. If someone produces your logo after that date, copyright ownership falls to you.
    • You could also print a copy of your logo along with the ownership information and send it in a secured envelop to yourself. Do not open this envelop; keep it on file and unopened, instead. The postmark on the envelop will prove how early you had created the logo, and this might be acceptable proof of ownership during a copyright infringement case.
    • Copyright your logo visually by putting the © symbol after it, or the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr." Also include the year of first publication after the visual mark, as well as the name of the copyright owner.

Part 2

  1. Image titled Copyright a Logo Step 5
    Complete the application. The copyright form can be found online. Download the form and complete it as completely as possible, using correct information.[5]
    • You can access both the electronic and paper versions of the form online at:
    • To file online, go to the above link and click on the "Electronic Copyright Office" login prompt. Follow the instructions on-screen to create an account and complete your application.
    • To file with a paper form, go to the above link and click on the "Visual Arts" form download, "Form VA." This is the form to use for "pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works." Print the form and complete it as described in the instructions on the sheet.
    • Alternatively, you can request that a paper form be sent to you via mail using the following form:
    • You will need to specify the title of the work, the author, information about its creation, information about yourself as the claimant, any applicable information about previous registrations, and any information about the work as a complication if applicable. In the final section of the form, you will need to specify your method of payment, provide contact information, offer your handwritten signature, and give and address for the office to shop your certificate to.
  2. Image titled Copyright a Logo Step 6
    Include the fee. Effective August 1, 2009, the fee to register your copyright online is $39 and the fee to send a paper application is $65.[6]
    • Note that the fee is non-refundable. Even if your application is not approved, you will not get the fee back.
    • If filing online, you can pay by credit card. If filing via the mail, you cannot use a credit card and must pay by check or money order.
    • Also note that if you are renewing your claim, you must file with a paper application (Form RE). The cost without addendum is $115 and the cost with addendum is $220.
    • Any supplementary registration done to amend a completed registration must be filed by paper, as well, using Form CA. The cost of this registration is $100.
    • You can order an additional certificate of registration for an extra $35.
  3. Image titled Copyright a Logo Step 7
    Attach copies of the logo. If your logo has been published in some medium, send in two copies. If your logo has never appeared in a public capacity, you may only need to send in one copy. Note that these copies will not be returned.
    • If filing online, you can attach an electronic copy of your logo. You may still be required to submit a hard copy version of your logo at a later date, however.[7]
  4. Image titled Copyright a Logo Step 8
    Send the package to the national Copyright Office. You can file application with its associate parts electronically or by mail.
    • If sending the application by mail, all parts of the application (the completed form, payment, and copy of your work) must be included in the same package.
    • Send a paper application to:[8]
      • Library of Congress
      • Copyright Office
      • 101 Independence Avenue, SE.
      • Washington, D.C. 20559 6000
    • If you submit your application electronically, you will receive an email acknowledging that your application was received after you finish the submission process.
    • You can send the package via certified mail and with a return receipt requested, but this is not required. You will not receive any other acknowledgment concerning the receipt of a paper application, though.
    • Your registration, if granted, is effective on the day the Copyright Office receives your submission.
    • No matter which way you file, you should expect a letter, phone call, or email from a Copyright Office staff member if further information is required.
  5. Image titled Copyright a Logo Step 9
    Wait for a response. If your claim checks out, your registration will be assigned a number. You should also receive a certificate of registration in the mail roughly four months after you initiated the process.
    • After completing your registration, catalogers create an online, searchable public record of your copyright registration.
    • If your application is denied, you should receive a letter that explains the Copyright Office's reason for rejecting it.[9]

Things You'll Need

  • Credit card, check, or money order
  • Printer (optional)
  • Security envelop (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Publishing