How to Trademark a Photo

Studio shot of crouching photographer
••• Jupiterimages/ Images

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 To copyright a collection of photos, all photos in the collection must be either published or unpublished.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.

Related Articles