Logos are distinct proprietary images companies use to identify their brands in the marketplace. Logos can boost brand recognition and give loyal customers something to identify with. The most effective logos hold deep significance for long-term customers; consider the Harley-Davidson logo, for example, which numerous die-hard fans have tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Because of their importance and value to a business, copyright protection is crucial for all logos. Knowing how to get a logo copyrighted before you put it in use is a key to protecting your brand identity.
Create an electronic copy of your logo in PDF format. If your logo was created electronically, try to save the original work file as a PDF directly through the program used to create it. If the program does not offer that feature, use a free PDF converter program to convert an image file, such as a JPEG or GIF, to a PDF. If you are copyrighting a hand-drawn or painted logo that has never been used, scan the document to a PC and convert the file to a PDF.
Read More: How to Find Out if a Logo Is Copyrighted
Log on to the U.S. Copyright Office's online registration system. Locate and click the link to create a new account if you have never filed an electronic copyright application before.
Log in to your account on the Copyright Office's website; click the link labeled “register a new claim,” then find and click the link labeled “start registration.”
Move on to the next page of the application and choose “work of visual arts” from the drop-down menu. Enter a name for your work on the next page, then click “continue.” Use your company name in the title to clarify the purpose of the copyright. Use a name like “Bill's Tack Shop Logo,” for example.
Identify yourself as the author of the work in the next step, or register the copyright under the company's name. Skip the next two steps regarding copyright claimants and limitations, as these apply to copyright transfers rather than original copyright applications.
Move on to the final step and specify how you would like the Copyright Office to get in touch with you regarding your filing status and any corresponding documentation. Click “add to cart” to move on and submit your application along with the filing fee.
Fill in your payment information to pay the filing fee, which, as of 2011, is $35 per application. Upload the PDF copy of your logo from Step One after submitting payment, and click the “complete application” button.
You should hear from the Copyright Office within six months regarding your application. If you wish to begin using your logo in the meantime, consider filing for a pre-registration online to protect yourself further. A pre-registration simply requires you to pay an additional fee, set at $115 as of 2011, after submitting your original application.
David Ingram has written for multiple publications since 2009, including "The Houston Chronicle" and online at Business.com. As a small-business owner, Ingram regularly confronts modern issues in management, marketing, finance and business law. He has earned a Bachelor of Arts in management from Walsh University.