How to Copyright a Phrase or Slogan

By Foye Robinson
Copyright a phrase or slogan
copyright image by Angie Lingnau from

A copyright protects your work legally by proving you are the original author. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, you can copyright literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, but not names, titles, slogans or short phrases. In some cases, however, you may be able to protect a phrase or slogan as a trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) includes a list of active/inactive registrations at the USPTO, but may not include every protected phase or slogan.

Check if the phrase or slogan is already registered by searching the TESS database online (see resources) or by going to the Trademark Public Search Library in Alexandria, VA.

Check the TARR database (see resources) for additional information about a federally registered mark or pending application by choosing a search category, entering a serial number and pressing "Request Status."

Request a trademark application by calling the USPTO (800-786-9199) if you'd like to register in person or by mail. To apply online (see resources), complete an application through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) instead.

Submit the creator's name and contact address; a standard character drawing of the trademark; goods or services for which the phrase or slogan is used; a sample of how it is used; and your reason for filing.

Include a statement that the phrase or slogan doesn't require a particular font, style or color (if you're submitting text without a particular style). To submit a phrase or slogan that requires a specific font, style or color, you'll need to send a clear drawing of your text in the correct font, style or color. All trademarks (with or without design elements) require a drawing.

Submit your drawing in JPG format if you're filing electronically, or on a flat sheet of non-shiny 8½ x 11 inch paper (if you're filing in person or by mail).

Include a copy of the application, signed by a legally authorized person (for mailed and hand delivered applications). To sign electronically, enter the symbol you adopted as a signature in the TEAS.

Submit your application online and pay the filing fee with a credit card, an electronic funds transfer, or into an existing USPTO deposit account online. A summary of your filing and a serial number will be emailed to you once the application is submitted.

Register in person at the USPTO or mail your application and fees to: Commissioner for Trademarks P.O. Box 1451 Alexandria, VA 22313-1451. A filing receipt with your serial number will be mailed to you in two to three weeks.

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