One of the most important visuals for your brand is your company logo. This brand element is a vital tool in how potential customers, partners, and stakeholders perceive your business.
After you’ve invested time and money into creating the perfect logo to represent your brand, you need to protect it. That’s why you must copyright your logo.
Fortunately, you can take this important step on your own using the Electronic Copyright Office.
Why do you need to copyright your logo?
Your business logo is considered intellectual property, and you must protect it. Even if you hired someone to design the logo, you have paid them for their work, and they’ve basically “sold” you the design.
Without proper protection, individuals or other entities can use your logo without asking for permission. Copyright on this business asset protects it from unauthorized distribution and use while guaranteeing you the rights over your intellectual property.Protect Your Logo with LegalZoom
When copyrighting your intellectual property, the government helps you to ensure that other brands and individuals can’t abuse your property, while also protecting your reputation.
If you’re running a business in the United States, you can copyright your logo or any other asset at the official United States Copyright Office website. This institution advises about copyright laws to the public and manages the national copyright system.
How to Copyright Your Logo in 13 Easy Steps
Here are the exact steps to secure the rights to your intellectual property. Go through each step carefully and you will succeed in copyrighting your logo.
- Step 1: Register and log into the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO)
- Step 2: Choose the type of work
- Step 3: Add a new title
- Step 4: Choose if the work is published
- Step 5: Name the author(s) of the work being registered
- Step 6: Identify the copyright claimant(s) in this work and include them
- Step 7: Enter limitation of claim info
- Step 8: Rights & permissions contact information (optional)
- Step 9: Add the correspondent
- Step 10: Fill out the mail certificate info
- Step 11: Special handling of mail info (optional)
- Step 12: Add author certification
- Step 13: Review and submit your application
Step 1: Register and log into the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO)
Before you can start the process of copyrighting your logo, you will have to:
- Visit the official web page. Click on the “Registration” card in the upper right corner and choose “Visual Arts” from the dropdown menu.
- When you arrive at the “Visual Arts” page, click on “Register a Visual Arts Work.”
- You will be redirected to a user login page where you must provide your User ID and Password. After you’ve done that, click on “Login.” If you haven’t registered yet, click on the link below the “Login” button to register before you can continue.
- After logging in, choose a standard application to register one piece. Keep in mind that you can’t use the standard method to register entire collections of unpublished works. If you use the standard application for multiple items, the Copyright Office will most likely register only one and remove the remaining pieces.
Step 2: Choose the type of work
The second step towards copyrighting your logo is to choose the correct type of asset that you’re wanting to protect.
Choose “Work of the Visual Arts” and click the box below to confirm your choice. Once you’ve done that, click the “Continue” button at the top of the page.
Step 3: Add a new title
The next step is to choose a title for your work. To do this, click the “New” button and select the appropriate title type before you type in the title.
Once you’re finished, click “Save.” You can repeat this process as many times as you like, and when you’ve set up all of the titles, click on “Continue.”
Step 4: Choose if the work is published
The next step is the Publication/Completing screen, where you will state if the work has been published or not. Based on your situation, choose the “Yes/No” answer.
If you haven’t published the work, you will have to include the year when it was finished. If it’s published, you will have to include the publishing year, the exact day, the country where it was published, and the international standard number (if there is one).
Step 5: Name the author(s) of the work being registered
This page is where you list the creators of your logo.
You can choose “Add Me” if you’re the creator and include all of the relevant information about yourself.
If someone else created your logo, click on “New,” and you will be directed to another page where you can include their information. In the end, you can include information about how the author contributed to creating the logo.
When you click “Save” for each author, they will be added to the list. You can add as many authors as you wish before moving on to the next step.
Step 6: Identify the copyright claimant(s) in this work and include them
If you are the claimant of the work, click “Add Me.” If someone else is the claimant and you’re completing this process on their behalf, click “New.”
In the case that the claimant isn’t the author, you will have to include a transfer statement explaining how the claimant became the owner of the work.
Once you’re finished with the claimant, click “Save” and then “Continue” to go to the next step.
Step 7: Enter limitation of claim info
Limitation of claim is reserved for materials that have been registered previously, are publicly available, or have been published. You will have to explain which materials are new and which are old.
If your logo doesn’t fit into this category, leave everything blank and click “Continue” right away.
Step 8: Rights & permissions contact information (optional)
On this screen, you can add all of the information about a person who should be contacted regarding use, permission for this work, and copyright management.
However, it isn’t a mandatory step, so you can leave all fields blank if you prefer.
Step 9: Add the correspondent
On this page, you will include information about the individual that the Copyright Office should contact if they have additional questions or require information during the review process.
Step 10: Fill out the mail certificate
The mail certificate page requires the name and the address of the person to whom the registration certificate should be sent. It’s a mandatory step that you need to complete to receive your copyright.
Step 11: Special handling of mail info (optional)
This expedited service requires payment of a big fee and is provided for registrations made on an expedited basis regarding litigation, publishing deadlines, or customs issues.
Step 12: Add author certification
You must certify the application as the author, owner of exclusive rights, or copyright claimant. Confirming that you are the person who can certify the application is a simple matter of checking the box and providing your full name.
Select“Continue” to proceed to the review page.
Step 13: Review and submit your application
The final step is the review page, where you can check all of the information that you’ve provided in the application.
You can go back to previous sections using links to fix the application if you see something that needs correcting.
Once you’ve reviewed everything and verified that it is correct, click “Add to Cart,” check all of the purchases and pay $65 for the application.
Once you have made the payment and it has been confirmed, you can expect a confirmation email to inform you that the payment was successful.
Submit your copy of the work
To complete the submission, you have to send a copy of the work being registered.
Before submitting work, review the information provided to determine whether physical or electronic documents are required in your case.
Check the types of files accepted by the system before submitting an electronic copy. Find the green button to select a file for uploading, and then select a file on your computer and hit “Open”.
The file that you selected will be displayed on your application. Then, click on the blue “Start Upload” button to upload the file. If it’s uploaded correctly, the “Successfully uploaded” message will appear on the screen.
Next, click the green “Complete your submission” button.
The Copyright Office will email you to confirm that they have received your file.
At the bottom of the screen, click “Create Shipping Slip.”
The slip will open so that you can print it, attach it to a physical copy of the work in question, and then mail it to the address listed at the bottom of the shipping slip.
How long does it take to process your application?
The processing times at the Copyright Office can vary widely for a number of reasons. Below are some of the most common ones:
- How difficult it is to review your claim;
- Whether you have submitted a physical deposit;
- If the Copyright Office needs to get in touch with you; or
- How many registration specialists are currently available to review the claim.
The most common reason cited for delays is related to online submission, where the applicants have failed to submit the required physical deposit. Another frequent issue is that some applicants fail to answer all of the questions that the examiner asks them.
Applicants can find all of the requirements in the Compendium of the U.S. Copyright Office Practices, and it is best to go over this document, along with the Copyright Office’s circulars, when submitting an application. That way, there will be less back and forth, and you will minimize the chance of any further delays.
Also, it’s always best to use the online application form, as email submissions generally take longer to process.
It takes an average of 3.6 months to process a claim, and situations requiring further correspondence between the Copyright Office and the applicants before a decision can be made occur in approximately 23% of all cases.
You can view a chart detailing the processing times and correspondence rates for specific application types below.
(Images source: United States Copyright Office)
Upon filing your claim, be sure to occasionally check for any emails from the Copyright Office. If you receive one, you will have 45 days to respond, and you will be expected to answer any and all questions as thoroughly as possible.
Use this guide to copyright your logo or any other asset. The process is similar regardless of what kind of work you wish to copyright. Work your way through the process slowly and review your application thoroughly to ensure that you have all of the information correct, and improve your chances of a prompt approval.