What's in a logo

22 August 2019

Although a consumer, when seeing a brand, focuses mostly on words, graphic elements (including colors) will help make a brand recognizable. A red can with white italic letters? You immediately think of Coca-Cola.

In most cases, registering a logo as a trademark is a good idea. But how do you properly protect and register a logo? Do you do this together with a word or do you register a graphic element separately? A lot depends on the current and future use of the logo: if a logo is always used in combination with a word and never separately, then the combination will in any case have to be registered. The registration of the individual graphic element is recommended as an additional registration (if the budget allows). In addition, the graphic element can be registered as a model.

With regard to the protection of logos, it is good to remember that the concept behind the logo is not decisive in an infringement case. The fact that a horse is depicted in a logo for a clothing brand does not mean that you can stop any horse logo from someone else. There must be a (rather high) similarity between these logos.

A nice recent example of this is an opposition between two wine logos. Both consist of a circle that is represented as a kind of paint brush. The EUIPO ruled that there are sufficient differences between these logos: the colors differ, the circle is coarse in the one but not in the other. Moreover, a word has also been added to one logo and there are various different square lines in the logos. So at first glance there is some similarity, but when assessing the marks closely, there are some differences that prevent a risk of confusion.

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