A question our customers frequently have is if they “own” their logo and how to protect the design from being stolen or infringed on. Some think it’s expensive to get a copyright, when in reality it is free, due to the integrity of U.S. copyright law in it’s respect for intellectual property. Many start up businesses simply want to get their website and business up and running before deciding what level of protection their logo needs, and U.S. law allows them to do that with no paperwork under natural copyright. Yes, Uncle Sam is looking out for you in this regard.
There are many levels of legal protection offered, but the good news is due to changes in copyright law since the 1980’s – basic copyright protection is absolutely free for any piece of original design then used for commercial purposes. Yes, you can put the copyright symbol on your logo as soon as it is done. This is referred to as natural copyright, and by mailing a notarized letter to yourself you can establish possession of the logo design from a particular date, which can later be used as proof if on the small chance someone did try to use your logo for themselves without permission.
This is the most basic form of legal protection for your logo design, but does not establish proof of creation, simply ownership from a particular date forward. Proof of creation is a stronger form of registered copyright. In the end you should most likely register it, but for now the good news is as long the design is original, it’s copyrighted and you can place the official symbol in your logo to deter any possible infringement. We will discuss registering and trademarking in our upcoming posts, but for now get your logo and brand design done professionally with no fear of up-front cost for legal recognition.