Most people decide whether their trademark application should be for a character mark or a design mark (stylized/logo). Mark registration and protection can be significantly impacted by choosing correctly or incorrectly.
Standard Character Mark
When used to identify and brand a company, institution, or product, a wordmark shows the name and logo of the company, institution, or product only. The term “standard character trademark” refers to a trademark that has only words, letters, and/or numbers that lack any design element or specify any particular font, style.
The word trademark (also called a wordmark) protects the word when it is displayed in a visual manner. Any time a trademark appears in a logo, design, or on its own, it is protected as a standard character trademark.
When using a standard character format, the applicant has the option to depict the trademark in a different font style, size, or color from that shown on the specimen of use. Standard character trademarks on an application are most likely shown as capital letters, however in commerce, a trademark can be written in lower case or upper case, in a stylized font, or even integrated with a logo. Regardless of how the words are displayed, standard character trademarks protect them.
In the design/styled or logo trademark, words and/or letters are stylized, a design element forms the trademark, or the trademark consists of stylized wording or a combination of stylized wording and design. Design trademarks can protect logos with or without words, but they can also be interpreted to be limited by their logo, graphic or stylistic elements.
While infringement or conflict claims are generally based on the wording of a logo trademark, there are times when a third party may be better able to defeat your claim of infringement when they do not use the same wording or use any of the same trademark elements as you.
It may also be necessary to file a new trademark application if you choose to change your logo or stylistic elements of the special form mark once it is submitted, depending on how extensive the changes were. You will have to file a new trademark if you change the placement of a logo design on the left and words on the right in a trademark filing. For example, placing a logo on the left and words on the right could be considered a material change and will need to be filed as a new trademark.
Additionally, if the old trademark registration is no longer being used, it may not be possible to renew it. A trademark registration must be continuously used to remain valid. As a result, trademarks with a long history have a greater chance of being considered strong and harder for others to challenge. If you renounce a registration due to a change in logo design, you will lose the advantages of a registered trademark. As presented with any logo or stylistic arrangement, standard character marks do not have this problem.
Here is some general information to consider if you wish to proceed with only one trademark application when you own a trademark with a logo or design element.
- Companies and sellers should file for trademarks for both standard character trademarks and logo trademarks.
- A standard character mark should be selected during the application process if you do not have a logo or graphic representation of the mark.
- If your mark is descriptive, then it is best to distinguish your trademark by adding a design or logo element.
- The more your business grows, the more likely you will be to dedicate more resources to filing additional trademark applications.
- You can strengthen your trademark protection by registering it in multiple places.
A trademark attorney with experience in trademark law should always be consulted before applying for any trademark. Our experienced team can evaluate your trademark, application, or USPTO refusal and recommend a course of action that best suits your needs.