How to Trademark a Slogan

  1. Go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website.
  2. Check the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) database. Make sure the slogan isn't already registered in the same category.
  3. Submit your trademark application. Pay the filing fee.

What Is a Trademarked Slogan?

A trademark is an original symbol or saying that sets apart one product or company from another. Registering a trademarked slogan will make the connection between your message and your brand for customers. This can aid your marketing efforts and add value to your business.

When you trademark a slogan, you have the exclusive rights to use it to make money. You can defend your slogan from infringement. You can also sue infringers for damages.

Many businesses register advertising campaigns as trademarked slogans. To trademark a slogan, it has to meet one of the following definitions:

  • It's fundamentally creative and distinctive. Think of Nike's "Just Do It"
  • It has another meaning that immediately calls a product or service to mind. This secondary meaning goes beyond the literal meaning. This type of slogan is most common when it's been used in commerce or advertising for at least five consecutive years. Think of Wendy's "Where's the Beef?"

Not every slogan can be trademarked. Most applications for the following types of trademarks wont be approved:

  • Common phrases that do not have another meaning. Example: a supermarket's "Why Pay More?"
  • Informational or entertaining phrases not intended for profit. Example: an environmental group's "Think Green!"

In addition to a slogan, a trademark can also apply to a:

  • Business name
  • Phrase
  • Symbol
  • Logo
  • Combination of several elements

In every case, the trademarked intellectual property must be unique and distinctive.

Reasons to Consider Trademarking a Slogan

  • You Can Lay Claim to Your Advertising Campaign

Some companies regularly use a slogan in their ad campaign. If this is true for you, you might want to gain exclusive rights to it. Campaigns that meet one of the above requirements could be eligible.

  • You Want to Build Your Brand

With a trademark, you can keep others from using your creative, distinctive slogan. This can help your business stand out. It can also make your brand more desirable.

Reasons to Consider Not Trademarking a Slogan

  • Your Slogan Is Merely Descriptive

You can't trademark a slogan that just describes your company's goods or services. This doesn't usually meet the USPTO's requirements.

  • You Don't Need a Trademark to Make a Slogan Your Own

You can adopt a slogan for your brand without filing out a trademark application. If you want to keep others from using it, however, you should trademark the slogan.

  • You Haven't Used the Slogan Regularly

Even a uniquely creative slogan might not be eligible for trademarking. If you haven't already established legitimate use, you might not have a strong enough case to register your trademark.

Common Mistakes

  • Trying to Trademark an Informational Slogan

You can't trademark slogans of an informational or entertaining nature if they aren't intended for profit.

  • Trying to Trademark Mere Ornamentation

Some trademarks include original designs. Any design element must be integral to a logo. The USPTO doesn't allow trademarks for elements that are only for looks. The USPTO also doesn't grant trademarks for original artwork. Apply for a copyright for any creative work that you've made or authored.

  • Not Using Your Trademarked Slogan

You shouldn't file a trademark application for a slogan that you don't intend to use. This usually leads to nonuse and trademark abandonment or cancellation. Other parties can use cancelled or abandoned trademarks. If you do this, you'll probably lose your exclusive rights.

  • Not Maintaining Your Trademark

The USPTO requires trademark owners to maintain registration to keep a trademark active. You'll need to demonstrate continual use five years after your original trademark date. You also have to request a trademark renewal every 10 years. If you don't do this necessary maintenance, the USPTO will cancel the trademark.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Slogan?

The USPTO trademark filing fee costs between $225 and $400. You'll have to pay extra for extensions, some amendments, and maintenance.

  • How Long Does It Take to Trademark a Slogan?

After filing your application, you should receive a response within six months. The USPTO approves most trademark applications within a year. This is a very different timeline from a copyright, which begins the moment you write or create an original work. 

Trademarks last for 10 years if you actively use them. You can renew trademarks indefinitely.

  • Should I Hire a Lawyer?

When you want to trademark a slogan, it's in your best interest to hire a lawyer. Slogans are some of the hardest pieces of intellectual property to register. You may need to argue or amend your case. You'll want legal assistance to do so.

  • How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer?

Lawyers who specialize in trademark law charge an average of $125 to $300 per hour. Registering a slogan costs $500 to $2,000. The cost depends on how many amendments you have to make.

Steps to Trademark a Slogan

1. Do a Trademark Search

Check the USPTO's TESS database to make sure that your slogan isn't already trademarked.

2. File a Trademark Application

Submit your slogan trademark application with the USPTO. Pay the filing fee. Your application should include:

  • Statement of use
  • List of other preexisting examples of use
  • Drawing of the trademark
  • Specimen of the trademark

3. File Trademark Maintenance Documents as Necessary

File trademark maintenance paperwork with the USPTO as necessary. You'll need to do this:

  • Five years after your original trademark registration date
  • 10 years after the original registration date
  • Every 10 years after that

If you need help with trademarking a slogan, you can post your question or concern on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.