While often used interchangeably, logos and trademarks are two different things and significantly differ from each other. A trademark can be several things, including (but not necessarily limited) a company logo. On the other hand, a logo is a visual representation of words and/or images that represent a brand’s identity while a trademark is a right that is conferred on a logo (or any other brand asset) that gives them exclusive use.
A logo is usually an image or drawing that represents a company, typically adopted to identify its products or services. Logos help promote public identification and could be figurative and contain certain words or characters. Logos are commonly used in a company’s branding, advertisement campaigns, websites, and stationery. While most companies have a logo, not all of them are necessarily registered trademarks.
A trademark is usually company specific or could be an identifier of its products and services. A unique brand name, phrase, motto, symbol or colour combination of a business can be trademarked. For instance, if a company has a trademark over its logo, it cannot be used by any other business (at least in the same class). This helps protect the company’s identity and ensures that others don’t use the company’s marks to sell goods and services. Most companies have a dedicated trademarks office set under the government for the registration of trademarks.
One can register a trademark only when it is intended to be used as a trademark - that is, to represent and act as the identifier of the source of the goods or services. If there is no intent of sale or service, then the particular mark cannot be registered.
Types of Trademarks
Trademarks are not restricted merely to logos. There are several things that can be trademarked.
While a trademark registration is not mandatory, it would ensure exclusive use and claim of ownership. In case of infringement by a third party, the owner would be able to initiate an infringement suit and claim damages.