People ask me often why I don’t trademark my logo, and instead copyright it. Well it’s pretty simple, and great advise from my trademark attorney (yes there are attorneys that specialize is trademarks). If you trademark a graphic, you are trademarking that specific design/symbol. If you try to alter it in any way. Say, down the road, you want to do a holiday themed version of your company logo, or you decide it’s time for an update/redesign.
Once you alter the logo, it is no longer protected under the trademark that it was originally registered for. It was recommended to me that the best course of action is to trademark the name itself, and not the logo. So, I can then change the logo as often as I want and the registered trademark will remain protected.
Therefore a cheap and better alternative would be to copyright the logo design separately. Copyrights are intended for original pieces of art. That can include: Music, poetry, graphic design, logos, books etc. You get the idea.
Copyrights have a few advantages over trademarks that make them a very appealing alternative to filing a trademark. To start, copyrights are VERY cheap. Yes VERY cheap. They are about $35. No search is needed before filing, and you don’t need an attorney.
In fact, you don’t even need Legal Zoom either. I like Legal Zoom. It’s a great alternative to sometimes very pricing attorney fees, but when it comes to filing a copyright, the process is so simple and straight forward you’d be a fool to spend the additional cost to go through Legal Zoom. Legal Zoom wants almost 2x the cost of doing it yourself.
All you need to do is go to the U.S. copyright office website, create a login, follow the directions and upload your material. If you opt for the online application process you can get your certificate in as quickly as 90 days! If you file the copyright application through snail mail it could take (I believe) up to 6 months.
Obviously Copyrights are not the answer to everything. You cannot use them for anything other than creative works of art, but they work well for my scenario with my logo and company and should be considered when starting a new business.