5 Fabulous Small Business Logo Designs and How to Legally Protect Them!

http://www.inc.com/ss/5-fab-small-business-logo-designs?utm_source=start-up&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=incid38581week34#4 (accessed August 27, 2011)

Inc. magazine highlights the small business logo design of 5 small companies, which are set out below. Afterwards, I provide some things every business owner should remember about intellectual property and specifically trademark protection.

The Story

(1) Brooklyn Brewery’s design was made by Milton Glaser the foremost logo designer. The logo was instrumental in helping obtain investors, according to co-founder Titi Branch.
(2) Miss Jessie’s Original, whose founders Titi Branch and Miko Branch used Deroy Peraza, co-creator of the Brooklyn, to design a logo for their product line named in honor of their paternal grandmother. The resulting logo was a very classic “old world feel” to show that the product was rooted in tradition.

(3) Snooty Peacock is an online jewly stores that makes handmade jewelry with southern charm. The co-founders of this company reached out to a family friend, Ryan Russell, to desisgn their logo. This design is unique and creative—-check it out!

(4) SusieCakes’ founder Susan Sarich contacted Simon Endres for her company logo. Endres used a unique idea to create a classic design that mimiced letterforms etched in icing. “The importance of standing out and having something that is unique and identifiable specifically to your vocation or your brand is more pertinent today than it was five years ago.” says Sarich.

(5)Globetrooper is a start up that pairs traveling partners. The company crowdsourced the ability to design their logo via 99designs and had over 200 companies bid to design for their company. The founders, Todd Sullivan and Lauren McLeod, ultimately settled on their current design after editing the current logo using Adobe Illustrator.

My Perspective

I used a Georgia based private designer for the KLP logo. As founder, the initial concept of KLP, which still continues today, is to be a well-rounded, comprehensive law firm that provided business AND legal advice; that is the reason for the oval design. The inscription “Keeping you IN business and OUT of Court” sums of KLP’s mission statement and vision statement so I felt it was appropriate to include it within the logo design. NOTE: After having this private designer design my logo, I sent a follow up letter stating that I exclusively and in perpetuity owned any and all rights to this design. It would be even better to have your designer sign a contract stating such, which KLP can help you draft.

Kendrick Law Practice provides superior document drafting, document reviewing and negotiating services through comprehensive legal and business services and advice. However, Kendrick Law Practice can also be your general counsel for your business and help navigate you through the trademark process. Get started today at www.kendricklaw.net/clientservices/getstarted.html.

How Do You PROTECT your logo?: Some general things to remember about trademark protection

There are three (3) types of intellectual propery: (1) copyrights- protecting original thoughts and ideas; (2) patents- protecting inventions, in which you need a patent attorney because they have special certifications for this technical area of law and (3) trademarks, under which symbols, signs, scents, sounds,tag lines, etc. are protected. Your logo would fall under trademark protection. But note that the PURPOSE of trademark protection is to prevent consumer CONFUSION about a product; any use of the same or similar trademark that does not meet that objective will NOT be a trademark infringement on which you can sue or get an injunction and does NOT qualify for protection. Below are some points to remember as you seek out a business attorney like Kendrick Law Practice:

  1. The general rule is that the first one to use the mark will have superior rights. Therefore, if you have a trademark—don’t wait until your business is in operation a year from now….START USING IT and KEEP USING IT (there is an exception for “abandonment” for failure to use a product over a specified time.)
  2. Factors that determine if there is a trademark infringement: (1) Region trademarks are used, (2) Time trademarks are used and (3) Products that trademarks are used for. In essence, depending on how DIFFERENT the products are, there may NOT be a case for trademark infringement.
  3. The Landham Act is the federal act that protects derivatives of trademarks to keep down consumer confusion. If there is NO confusion, there can be NO delusion of a business and thus NO trademark infringement.
  4. The AntiDilution Act is the federal act that protects businesses from unfair competition.  There are three (3) requirements for use of this Act, one of which that the plaintiff has to show economic loss. For example, associating Johnny Carson with a toilet that says “here’s Johnny.”
  5. There are 5 different levels that the Federal Trademark Office uses to determine if it will grant trademark protections to an item that is trademarkable. The more unique and distinct a mark is—-the more protectable it becomes.
  6. Trademarks MUST be registered to obtain trademark protection. Once the trademark is registered, it becomes a contract between the government and the applicant whereas the government provides protections for that trademark. Many states also have state trademark offices, which are more local, faster and less expensive than going through the Federal Trademark Office but only cover that state.

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