How to Copyright a Logo: Step-by-step Guide

Remay Villaester (May)

Starting a new business, or rebranding? One of the first things you’ll need to start marketing your business is a great logo.

Your logo is the foundation of your brand identity, and a crucial business asset. It helps you make a strong first impression and stick in your customers’ minds, separating you from your competitors and hopefully helping to build a great company reputation.

But what if a rival firm decides to steal your logo, and use it to profit from your hard work and great reputation? This is why it’s so important to register a trademark in the UK for your logo, so you can control its use.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to copyright a logo, including a step-by-step guide to registering a trademark in the UK.

And here’s a top tip for businesses wanting to register trademarks outside the UK. Open a free multi-currency Wise account and you can pay registration fees all over the world cheaply and at the mid-market exchange rate.

But more on this later - let’s start with the basics of trademarks and copyright in the UK.

What’s the difference between trademark and copyright in the UK - and which is best for a company logo?

Copyrighting refers to the rights you’ll have over your logo, an original work created by and belonging to you. You’ll have exclusive rights to protect anyone else from reproducing your work.

Trademarking is similar, but it’s more specific. It protects a particular asset or unique element of your branding, such as a logo. A trademark distinguishes the work from that of a competitor.

If you take a look at other company’s logos or branding assets online, you’ll see that they are either marked with ™ or ®. The first is usually a ™ copy paste job, which stands for something that a company is using, but which isn’t currently registered. The trademark R stands for an officially registered trademark.

The key difference between the two is that you have to register a trademark with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO)¹. You don’t need to do this with a copyright - you can simply add the symbol © to your logo.

You should definitely consider registering the trademark for your new logo, but you might also want to copyright it - just to increase the overall protection for your branding.

How to copyright a logo - a step-by-step guide

If you have an amazing new logo design, the next step is to copyright it. All you need to do here is apply the © symbol to the work. If someone does reproduce or use the work without permission, this makes it easier for you to pursue legal action.

Trademarking your logo is more complicated. Follow these steps²:

  1. Head to the Government website to register a trademark.

  2. Check if your logo qualifies as a trademark. There’s a list of dos, don’ts and conditions that your design will need to comply with, including not being offensive, misleading or 3-dimensional³. You can trademark logos without names, but your design must be unique.

  3. Check that your trademark isn’t already registered by searching the trademarks database. After all, it’s possible that another business or individual has already registered a similar or identical logo.

  4. Apply using the online form to register your trademark. You’ll need details of your logo, plus the trademark classes you want to register in (i.e. food and drink services). Before you apply, you can use the ‘Right Start’ service if you want to double-check that your application will meet the registration rules.

  5. Pay the fee (we’ll cover how much it costs in just a moment).

  6. Wait up to 12 weeks for feedback on your application to come through. Also known as an examination report, this lets you know whether your application meets the registration rules.

  7. Respond to any objections. These may be raised by the examiner or another party, and will need to be resolved within 2 months before the process can go ahead.

  8. If objections are resolved or none are raised, you can then choose to continue with your application.

  9. Receive notification that your application has been successful and your trademark has been registered.

  10. Receive a certificate confirming the registration and start using the symbol ® with your logo.

It’s important to remember that trademarking your logo through this process only applies to the UK. Tis

How long does it take to copyright a logo?

The process of registering a trademark takes around 4 months⁴, but this is only if nobody objects to your application.

How much does a trademark cost in the UK?

To register a trademark in the UK, you’ll need to pay an initial fee. Plus a small extra fee for each additional class you’d like to register your logo trademark in.

This fee is non-refundable, which is why it could be a good idea to use the Right Start service before applying, to check that your application meets the rules. However, applying through Right Start also comes with costs, shown in the table below.

If there are no objections to your application and you’d like to go ahead with the registration, you’ll need to pay the full fee within 28 days of receiving your examination report.

Here’s a handy at-a-glance guide to all the fees² you need to know about:

Initial fee Initial fee for each additional class Full fee to proceed with registration Fee for each additional class
Standard online application £100 £50 £170 £50
Online application through Right Start £100 £25 £100 £25

If you want to apply by post, you’ll pay £200 in fees, plus £50 per additional class².

How long does a trademark last?

Once you’ve successfully trademarked your logo, the registration will remain on the official trademarks database for 10 years⁴. After this time, you can apply to renew it.

Copyright protection extends even longer. In fact, it doesn’t expire until 70 years after the death of the work’s creator¹.

Registering trademarks internationally? Use Wise to save on registration fees in other currencies

If you’d like to extend your exclusive rights over your logo outside of the UK, you may be able to apply for international trademark protection. This means registering your trademark in other countries.

This is likely to come with registration fees, in many different currencies if you’re applying in multiple countries.

Before paying these, open a multi-currency account online with Wise. You can use this account to send money abroad for tiny fees and the real, mid-market exchange rate, which could save you a bundle compared to using your bank.

With Wise, you could take advantage of cheap and transparent international transfers which is a perfect solution for paying vendors and suppliers abroad.

Start saving today with Wise

After reading this guide, you should have a good idea of how to copyright a logo in the UK. But it’s completely up to you whether you copyright or trademark your logo, or if you decide to do both. Good luck!

Sources used for this article:

  1. British business bank blog post
  2. article
  3. article
  4. article

Sources checked on 22th April 2021

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