A trademark or service mark may be a word, name, symbol, or any combination thereof that is used by its owner to identify or distinguish goods or services from those of others. Rights in trademarks and service marks arise as a result of use of the mark in commerce to identify the source or origin of goods and services. In addition, a trademark remains the property of the owner so long as the owner continues to use it properly as a trademark.
It is always a good idea to protect a logo through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. By applying for and obtaining a registration you will have the ability to take a strong stance against entities that may want take the mark and use it for their own benefit. This is true especially after you have built some recognition of the mark.
Factors to Consider
1. Long Term - Do you plan to use the mark long term? Registration lasts for 10 years.
2. Cost - The initial search would run between $500 - $700. There is an additional cost of $3,000 - $5,000 for filing and obtaining a registration per class.
3. Class - There are several classes that registrations of a trademark may be obtained depending on the use of the mark. The system marks are registered in class 41, which is for education and entertainment. Other types of classifications of goods and services are 12 - vehicles, 21 - housewares and glass, 25 - clothing, and 28 - toys and sporting goods.
Another option would be to start using the mark and place a TM next to the logo to indicate that the university is claiming trademark rights in the design. The downside to not using the trademark designation is that we could not claim that someone was on notice that we were claiming ownership to the mark. If after one or two years we feel that the mark is strong and will not be recreated we can then begin applying for registration.
If you want to move forward with the trademark registration process, we will need you to provide an account number for billing of services, artwork of the mark, description of the goods/services in which the mark(s) will be used, exhibits of use in commerce and date of first use in commerce. Please complete the following questionnaire and submit the fully executed document to the Office of Brand, Trademarks and Licensing. Upon receipt of this information, we will contact trademark counsel, Pirkey Barber, to begin the process. The full application process for federal registration of a mark takes between 12 - 18 months.