Can I obtain Trademark Registration for my slogan? Do I have copyrights for my slogan? This article addresses this common question.
Protecting your rights to your trademarks is essential to protect your investment, whether it be time, effort, money or other resources, in marketing your a product or service. It is also important to know what the limits are, for such protection, so that your marketing strategy can be developed in a manner that will allow for the greatest protection of your mark.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has strict regulations regarding whether or not a slogan may be registered as a trademark. Here is a summary of issues that are relevant in determining whether a slogan is registerable.
(a) The slogan should be used to identify the source of the goods or services and not merely “laudatory,” “informational” or “generic” (that is, the should be capable of distinguishing your particular service or product from the service or product of another source).
(b) For products, the slogan should be made a part of the packaging to show that the mark is being used as a source identifier.
(c) The slogan should either
(i) be inherently distinctive and qualify as a trademark in itself;
(ii) be identified with the product or service to the extent that consumers, when seeing or hearing the slogan, relate the slogan to your particular product or service (that is, show that the slogan has developed what the law refers to as a “secondary meaning, e.g., Nike’s “Just Do It”).
Note, even if a slogan does not amount to a registerable mark, under federal registration guidelines, laws protects certain slogans under “common law” principles relating to unfair competition, that is, where the mark has acquired a “secondary meaning.”
The United States Copyright office regulations prohibit copyright registration for “short phrases” and “slogans.” In addition, such regulations prevent the registration of the registration of “words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguish them from those of others.” Instead, related protections fall under the trademark laws.
Also note, if a slogan can pass the “originality” test and is not intended to identify the source of the services or products (that is, the slogan is not intended to be used as a trademark) then copyright protection may be possible. See article concerning copyright protection.
In addition, make sure your slogan is available for your use (will not infringe on the rights of others), before your invest your time, effort, money and other resources. Contact a qualified Trademark Lawyer to obtain professional advice concerning the availability of your slogan for your use and for advice concerning strategies that will help you get the greatest protection for your mark.
Michelle DelMar, Esq. is an experienced Trademark Lawyer. Click here to contact Attorney DelMar to start the conversation about your business plans and trademarks.
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