Before diving into the answer, it is important to first understand the differences between a word mark, a design/logo mark, and a composite mark (word plus design/logo).
What Are The Different Types of Trademarks?
A word mark is a type of trademark that consists of words, letters, or numbers that identify and distinguish a product or service. A design mark is a type of trademark that consists of a design or symbol that identifies and distinguishes a product or service. A composite mark is a type of trademark that combines both word and design elements to identify and distinguish a product or service. In short, a word mark is generally the name of the brand, product or service, a design mark is the logo, and a composite mark is the combination of name and logo.
What Type Of Trademark Offers The Strongest Legal Protection?
So, to answer the question of whether it is best to trademark (e.g., register) a word mark, a design mark or both – It’s not possible to say that one is better than the other, they are just different! In general, word marks often, but not necessarily, offer the strongest legal protection, followed by composite marks, and then by logos/designs.
Which Type of Trademark Should I Register With The USPTO?
The type of trademark you should register with the USPTO depends on the nature of your brand and how you use it. A word mark, also known as a standard character mark, protects words, phrases, or slogans. A design mark, also known as a logo, protects unique graphical elements, such as symbols or logos. A composite mark combines elements of both word and design marks and provides protection for the overall appearance of the brand.
If your brand is primarily based on a specific word or phrase, you should consider registering a word mark. If your brand is primarily based on a unique design, you should consider registering a design mark. If both elements are important to your brand, you should consider registering a composite mark.
If you have the budget to register all of your word marks, design marks and composite marks, we would suggest doing so that your brand is completely protected. However, if your budget is limited, and you have to choose which trademark to register first, we would generally advise registering in the order described above, but every case is different, and there are exceptions to every rule. The rationale for registering the word mark first is that it is usually easier for competitors to create logos and designs that won’t infringe your trademark than it is for them to find a word mark that doesn’t infringe. Since composite marks by definition have multiple components, your competitors usually have an easier time avoiding trademark infringement of a composite mark than a word mark.
If you are looking for more information on how best to select your trademark, see our page on Trademark Selection. If you would like to apply for a USPTO trademark registration, our trademark attorneys can assist! Simply gives us a call or click on the “Contact” button, or the “Looking For Trademark Assistance” button and fill out our contact form. It takes less than a minute!