Q: How can I protect a slogan?
A: Let me repeat a well known
quotation (or slogan?) and say "It ain't easy."
First, slogans, no matter how clever or how original, are not considered to
embody sufficient original authorship for copyright protection. The U.S.
Copyright Office will bounce your application.
Note that the U.S. Copyright Office does not judge the merit of someone's
work. It can be a mediocre painting or a tedious article, or even a lousy
poem, and it will be registered (provided of course that the required
information is provided, on the correct lines).
In refusing to register slogans, the Copyright Office is not passing
judgment on the merit of the slogan, but on the nature of the work as a mere
slogan. The sufficient authorship requirement goes at least in part to
policy as to what, and what not, can be held away from the public domain.
Second, a number of years ago it became trendy to place a trademark right up
on the front of the product. My best guess is that the trend started with
the little alligators. The little alligators were shown on the pockets of
the shirts. Since the little alligators told everyone that you were wearing
an upscale (expensive) brand, the alligators drove sales. The other
manufacturers began adding their brand names to the front, and that drove
sales too. Then even the off-brand brands came to the front, but that gets
to a different story.
Well since putting the brand name on the front was now conventional, some
folks successfully protected their slogans under trademark law, by selling
t-shirts etc. with the slogan on the front and a prominent "TM" symbol.
This practice went on for quite a long time before the USPTO started
clamping down on it. It still can be done, but not as easy as just slapping
it on the front of a t-shirt or whatever. In fact, if a t-shirt front is
your use specimen, registration will be undoubtedly be refused as merely ornamental use.
In addition, although trademark law does not require original authorship,
common slogans and common symbols are excluded from trademark protection
even if you establish appropriate trademark use.
other topics –
internet trademark issues
more topics -
quick cost guide,
naming and branding,
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