How to trademark and use my company logo?
Updated over a week ago

📌 How to check if your logo is already trademarked?

When creating your logo, to protect yourself but also to ensure that you do not infringe rights already attributed to a third party, a verification stage is essential.

There are three cumulative conditions for protecting a logo under trademark law: the logo must be distinctive, lawful and available to constitute a valid trademark.

  • Distinctive: The logo is often made up of several figurative and/or verbal elements. Not all of them necessarily need to be distinctive when taken in isolation.

  • Lawful: The registered logo must not offend public decency, public order or be composed of a sign whose use is legally prohibited or regulated (this is the case, for example, with flags, coats of arms, state emblems, Olympic emblems, etc.).

  • Available: The logo must not be identical or similar to a sign previously used or registered for identical or similar goods or services:

    • Identical search: this enables the owner of the registration application to find out about trademarks, company names and domain names that are strictly identical to the sign they wish to register.

    • Similarity search: this enables the existence of similarities to be highlighted.

Before you start the formalities for registering your logo, you can check its availability using official databases:

  • For France 🇫🇷, you can use the database of the Institut national de la propriété industrielle (INPI)

  • For Europe 🇪🇺, you can use the database of the Office of the European Union for Intellectual Property (EUIPO)

These databases list all trademarks published and/or registered in France and Europe.

📌 How to register your logo?

Competent institutions

At national level, logo protection under trademark law requires the completion of registration formalities. The procedure can be carried out at several levels:

  • In the European territory, you can obtain protection for the whole territory. To do this, you need to apply directly to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Once obtained, this property right is automatically valid throughout the 27 Member States for a renewable period of 10 years from the date of registration.

The registration procedure

Once the application has been filed with the relevant institutions, a preliminary examination stage begins: For example, in France, the INPI examines your application and may issue observations or objections.

  • An opposition allows the owner of a prior right to oppose the registration of your trademark if they consider that it infringes their rights.

  • Observation allows you to draw the INPI's attention to the fact that the trademark is not valid, for example, under other regulations, such as those protecting Geographical Indications. Anyone concerned can make observations.

If there is no opposition, INPI publishes the registration in the Bulletin Officiel de la Propriété Industrielle (BOPI).

You will then receive a certificate stating that your trademark has been registered. Caution: It is advisable to reread the registration certificate and report any errors to INPI as soon as possible.

Scope of the trademark rights

Trademark protection will be granted for the logo as registered, for the goods and services referred to at the time of registration ("principle of specialty") and for the territory or territories in which it was registered ("principle of territoriality").

  • Principle of specialty
    When filing and examining a trademark, the NICE Classification is useful. You should therefore pay particular attention to it. To help you draw it up, you will find below for each class of the classification an overview of the titles of the goods and services which are related to it (NICE Classification).

Example: if the Lacoste trademark is used by a third party to market musical instruments. As class 15 relating to musical instruments had not been selected at the time of filing by Lacoste (known for its ready-to-wear clothing), the company would not benefit from protection. There is no likelihood of confusion between the two marks. The use of the mark cannot be contested.

  • Principle of territoriality

    In principle, the protection is national. This means that a trademark protected by a national institution will only have effect in the territory concerned. Conversely, the protection will have no effect in other territories. Finally, by analogy, registration with the European authorities/international bodies will have effect in their respective jurisdictions.

Registering a trademark gives you exclusive rights to distinctive signs - such as names, logos, colors, images, patterns, shapes, packaging or sounds - that characterize your products and differentiate them from other goods or services. In most countries, trademarks are protected for 10 years.

The cost of trademark registration formalities

There is a cost involved in registering a trademark.

  • Supra-national institutions, here are useful links:

    • At the Europe → EUIPO

    • For international trademarks → WIPO

📌 How you can use your logo if you don’t register/trademark it ?

The rights acquired under trademark law confer property right to the owner for the products or services he/she has designated. In the absence of such formalities, the logo may also be protected by copyright as soon as it is created, provided it is original.

Caution: Being the owner of a trademark confers a definite advantage by virtue of possession of an intellectual property title, easier to oppose to third parties and to invoke before a judge. This right is exercised without prejudice to rights acquired by third parties prior to the filing date or priority date of the trademark.

📌 This FAQ is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The document contained in this FAQ is intended to provide a general overview of the subject matter and should not be construed as legal advice specific to your situation. It is therefore suggested that you consult a qualified lawyer for advice that addresses your particular circumstances.

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