Trademark protection is only available for names, short phrases, slogans, service names and logos. A photo can't be trademarked because it does not meet the requisite criteria for trademark protection. However, a photograph can be registered for copyright protection with the United States Copyright Office. A photograph is technically copyrighted as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium, such as a hard disc or a print copy. Registration with the Copyright Office allows the copyright holder to sue for statutory damages, attorney's fees and court costs.
Obtain a copyright application from the U.S. Copyright Office. You can file your application online or you can complete a paper copy and mail it in. A paper application will be more expensive.
Complete your copyright application by providing the Copyright Office with your name and address; the name of your photograph or collection of photographs; the requisite dates relevant to your photograph, including when it was taken and when it was published; and statements abou whether your photograph was a work made for hire and if it has ever been published before. If you have any collaborators or co-authors, you will need to provide their contact information to the Copyright Office.
Provide the Copyright Office with a copy of your photograph by uploading it directly through the electronic application. If you are using a paper application, you will need to mail the Copyright Office a physical copy or a compact disc.
Submit your application along with the appropriate filing fee. In 2012, the filing fee for an online copyright application is $35, and the fee for a paper application is $65.
You may wish to copyright a collection of photos to avoid paying a filing fee for each individual photo. To copyright a collection of photos, all photos in the collection must be either published or unpublished. The Copyright Office does not accept mixed collections.
Do not attempt to copyright photos that are not original works of authorship that you own.
Louis Kroeck started writing professionally under the direction of Andrew Samtoy from the "Cleveland Sandwich Board" in 2006. Kroeck is an attorney out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania specializing in civil litigation, intellectual property law and entertainment law. He has a B.S from the Pennsylvania State University in information science technology and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.