Should You Trademark Your Business Name and Logo Together?

November 20, 2021

Hi, I'm Paige, half of the duo behind Fairway Stables™

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Everyone from horse farm and farmette owners to homesteaders needs to know about this aspect of equine law: trademarking. Should you trademark your business name and logo together? If you haven’t read our article Trademarking Your Homestead Business, that’s the best place to start.

If you have read our first trademarking article, then you know that registering your horse farm’s name and logo are such important facets of equine law and homesteading law. Today I’m answering one of the most frequently asked questions: should you register your business name and logo together?

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Why are trademarks important?

Why go to the trouble to trademark your farm’s name? Well, to put it bluntly, you don’t own your name (or logo) until you have the registered trademark. You need to own your name or logo because 1 of 2 things could happen: 

  1. Someone could come along and register the trademark for the same name as your business and force you to rebrand. This is damaging to your brand’s reputation. Worse, it could cost you time and money in a courtroom that could otherwise be put back into your homestead business or horse farm.
  2. Someone could decide that your logo looks too similar to their own, and send you a cease and desist letter. In other words, you would suddenly be forced to stop using your logo on your signs, products, and other business materials. This would throw a huge wrench into your farm’s operations. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that I’ve dealt with many times for my clients.

Though these are worst case scenarios, I do see them happen a lot, and the effects can be devastating. That’s why acquiring a trademark is an essential step that every business owner should consider to protect their brand’s identity. However, anyone who has looked into the process knows two things to be true. First, it’s expensive, and second, it’s time-consuming.

So, it’s no surprise that one of the most frequent questions I get from entrepreneurs looking to trademark their business is whether or not they should register their business name and logo together on one application.

Pros:

  • You’ll save money. Filing fees (exclusive of attorneys fees) will usually be approximately $300 per application.
  • You’ll save time. Registrations will take about 6-12 months.

Cons:

  • You might save money now, BUT (as is the case for most cheaper, quicker options) it will cost you more time and money in the long run. 
  • You’ll most likely have to walk through the registration process again later. I explain why below.

You should file the trademark for your business name and logo separately. 

In the United States, trademark protection only extends to the trademark registration as it’s submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is important: this means that the federal protection you acquire from the USPTO only applies to the mark as it’s been registered. So, if you file your name and your logo together, you must actually use them together at all times to maintain your legal protection under federal law.  

Registering your name and logo together means staying together.

If you file them together but don’t always use them together, that federal protection won’t apply. In other words, registering them together means that any time you’re using your business name, you must present your logo as well. Having to use them together, always, is going to be nothing short of complicated and burdensome for both yourself and your team.

If, on the other hand, you register them both separately, you will be able to use them separately without losing that federal protection. 

Registering your name and logo together limits your ability to rebrand.

Aside from the limitations of how you could use your name and logo, it’s important to take into account another scenario: rebranding. Chances are, your business name won’t change much as your horse farm or homestead business grows. However, the odds of your logo evolving over time are significant; especially as you add new or different goods and services to your offerings.

If you registered your farm or homestead name and logo together, any sort of rebranding of either your name or logo would require a new registration. For example, if your name remained the same, but you changed out your brand colors or the logo itself, you would have to file an entirely new registration. And because the registration process can take anywhere from 6-12 months, this can significantly delay your rebranding process.

Registering your name and logo together opens you up to infringement.

Aside from the time and cost considerations that would come with a re-filing, there is an even bigger reason why you should not register your name and logo together: by doing so, you significantly undercut your own ability to protect your brand from infringers.

Keep in mind, your legal protection only extends as far as how it appears on your trademark registration. This means that if you register them together, your direct competition could legally use your name or logo. Registering your name and logo together is comparable to ONE trademark in the eyes of the USPTO. Therefore, an infringer would have to use both your name and logo in order to constitute legal infringement. According to the USPTO, you actually don’t own your name or your logo individually.

Let’s use an example…

Both the name and logo of Apple are very distinguishable, right? Let’s pretend that Steve Jobs decided to save a little bit of time and money when he registered the Apple trademark and threw them both in together on one application. Let’s then say that after a few years of success, Microsoft took notice, and in an effort to create a little industry confusion, they began using the Apple logo. 

If Microsoft were to do this and Steve Jobs only owned the trademark as a combined registration, he wouldn’t have any recourse against this action. Think of how much this scenario would damage the integrity of Apple as a recognizable brand!

It’s an extreme scenario, but it conveys the point. The only reason why a company registers a trademark is to protect their brand identity. (Contrary to some people’s belief, a trademark does nothing to protect your company from a liability perspective.) By registering your name and logo together, you are pulling the rug out from under your own feet in terms of your ability to protect that brand.

You will not be able to sue any infringer if you have not properly registered your trademark on a federal level. Would Steve Jobs ever run this risk? Of course not. And there’s absolutely no reason why you should approach your horse farm or homestead business any differently.

Don’t trademark your business name and logo together.

Hopefully, this article demonstrates why registering your business name and logo together is not worth the time or money you think you’re saving at the outset. Registering your trademarks separately is a matter of when, not if. Why would you wait to do what’s best for your homestead business or horse farm?

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