Refresh Your Logo While Keeping Your Old U.S. Trademark Registration


We are tickled pink when we get to work with trademark registrations that issued before we were born. ‎(We won’t say when that was.) It’s nifty to be the steward of a trademark that has stood the test of time and that may endure long after we’ve headed off to the Great Principal Register in the Sky (no Supplemental Register for us, no sirree).

But what if your old, venerable logo is due for some sprucing up? ‎Please don’t immediately assume that a logo refresh means that you will need to start over with a new trademark application and allow your old logo registration to lapse. You may be able to amend your national U.S. trademark registration to cover the most current version of your logo, so long as the new logo isn’t a “material alteration” of the original registered logo. This allows you to preserve your original priority date that is associated with your old registration! (Note: this won’t work for registrations obtained in the USA via the Madrid Protocol. Sorry.)

So how do you know whether ‎the change in your logo amounts to an impermissible “material alteration”? We can usually eyeball the new and old logos side-by-side and predict with a fair degree of certainty how the Trademark Office will react—but in case you haven’t had the pleasure of reviewing innumerable logo updates like we have, below are a few examples, straight from the Trademark Office records.

The Trademark Office approved the amendment of the following marks:

1.  From  Aqua Stop Original Logo to 

2. From to (changing “GRAN VINO” to “VINO DE,” below the image of grapes at the top)

3. From to

If you are just rearranging the original logo elements, updating the lettering, and not adding or ‎subtracting any major word or design elements, why not try amending the registration to cover the new version of the logo? You’ll look like a champ when you preserve your early priority date, and you’ll avoid incurring the cost of a new application.

Keep in mind that this magic trick doesn’t tend to work in many places outside the USA. We have encountered precious few countries that allow you to amend any aspect of a registered mark—and some countries insist that the mark be used in the exact (and we mean EXACT!) form in which it was registered. If the changes are minor, though, sometimes we’re told that the old and new logos are “close enough” that it’s not strictly necessary to file a new application. Check with your favorite local lawyer before you try this!

The material contained in this communication is informational, general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. The material contained in this communication should not be relied upon or used without consulting a lawyer to consider your specific circumstances. This communication was published on the date specified and may not include any changes in the topics, laws, rules or regulations covered. Receipt of this communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In some jurisdictions, this communication may be considered attorney advertising.


About the Author: Jennifer Dean

Jennifer Dean is a leading trademark lawyer who helps companies establish, protect and promote their brands in the United States and globally. Clients entrust her with intellectual property portfolios comprising thousands of trademark applications and registrations, relying on Jennifer’s extensive experience navigating the intricacies of international brand management. Her knowledge of clients’ industries and careful monitoring of the marketplace enables her to act swiftly to avert competitors’ efforts to launch confusingly similar brands.

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