Can High School Logos Be Copyrighted?

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Logos are one of the most potent symbols of a high school brand. You can prevent others from copying your logo by obtaining a copyright or trademark, depending on how you use your logo. Protecting your logo can even bring in extra revenue for the school -- if you receive a copyright, you can license the logo to local businesses for a fee. However, to protect your image, you must prove that the logo is original and that you have the rights to the design.

Copyrighting a High School Logo

To copyright your high school logo, you must meet certain requirements. Your logo must be original -- you can't borrow it from a college or professional team. In the past, high schools have gotten in trouble for using a symbol that too closely resembled the trademark of a company. For example, one high school in Florida was forced to reprint its school stationary and uniforms after a car company complained that their logos were too similar. Additionally, you must show that the logo was designed for the school, and the logo creator must give the school official permission to claim the copyright.

Copyright Versus Trademark

If you are using your logo on merchandise, apply for a trademark instead of a copyright. To qualify for a trademark, the logo must appear on merchandise like school t-shirts, stationery, or flags. Additionally, the logo must be original. Finally, the school must be able to prove that it has exclusive rights to the logo. For example, if a student designed the logo, he or she would need to give the school permission, in writing, to use the logo on its goods and merchandise.

Applying for a Copyright

Before you apply to copyright a trademark, search the online database of the Copyright Office to ensure that your design is not already in use. If your design is original, you can apply online for a copyright or a trademark. You can apply for a copyright online at the Copyright Office website. You will need to include two original sketches of your logo, along with information on how and when the design was created. You will also have to pay a $35 fee by credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer.

Applying for a Trademark

The application for a trademark is similar to the application for a copyright. Search the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make sure no one has applied for a trademark. To qualify for a trademark, you must prove that your design has been used on school merchandise. Additionally, you will have to show that your trademark is original and pay an application fee.

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