Word vs. Logo
In filing a trademark application, you must choose between applying for the mark in standard character format (word mark) or in a stylized/design format (“design mark” or “special form”). A standard character format simply requires the mark to be typed out without regard to the font, style, size or color – namely, all the features that you can include in a stylized/design format (e.g., a logo).
Registration of a word mark provides broader rights and basically protects the wording of the mark regardless of its style. Thus, applications for word marks must include a Standard Character Claim: “The mark consists of standard characters without claim to any particular font, style, size or color.” Applying for a word mark means you can vary the design aspects of the mark (e.g., style, upper/lower case, font) in use without causing a conflict with your trademark application.
If you want to protect a graphic design or image that has no wording, then you must apply for a design mark. This is also known as “Special Form (Stylized and/or Design” on the USPTO initial application online form.
If your mark includes a very distinctive logo with particular graphics or stylized wording, you should consider filing for a design mark. Keep in mind that a registration of a design mark requires you to use the exact same design over the course of the next several years in order for you to maintain and renew your registration. Changing the design may warrant the filing of a new trademark application. A word mark registration, on the other hand, allows you to use the mark in several different designs so long as the wording (e.g., spelling, number of words/terms, etc.) remains the same.
Filing for both Word Mark and Design Mark
Of course, if your mark includes both wording and stylistic elements, consider filing two trademark applications – one as a word mark, and the other as a design mark – but not necessarily at the same time. You can choose to register one version of the mark before applying for the other.
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