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  • Wendi Gundersen

Vote for—but don't steal—my trademark!



I've noticed a growing trend on social media: asking people to vote for your new logo. This makes sense for a lot of reasons. You can get input from a relevant audience—customers and fans. And you can build loyalty by giving your connections and followers a voice in your brand.

But there is a danger too. If the logo is new or hasn't been used before, you may be giving an opponent a head start.

Generally speaking, you don't get rights in a trademark until you start using it as a trademark. So if you share your new marks online before using them, there is little to stop someone from using the same or similar mark before you do. Or worse, they could file an intent-to-use application with the Trademark Office.

How do you deal with this? One good way to avoid major issues is to file your own intent-to-use application for at least one of the alternative designs you are planning on using. Another is to register the various logos with the Copyright Office, assuming you have those rights. There are different approaches, and an experienced attorney can help you navigate the options.

You're exited about your new branding efforts. But don't let that excitement lead to a strategy that ultimately defeats your goal of having a strong and identifiable brand.


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