Company name and logo: to change or not to change?

“Should I change my logo?” It’s a question I hear a lot from up-and-coming business owners concerned about whether their chosen name or logo infringes on another brand which may be protected (it’s not about changing your logo to update your brand, as the picture may suggest. It’s the only one I could find that’s free to use and communicates what I wanted to!). The answer to the question depends on several factors, among which the legal test is only one component, that is, whether your mark is likely to confuse potential consumers as to the source of the branded products. While much information exists on the internet regarding the legal test, what is often failed to be mentioned is that the legal test by itself only tells you whether you would prevail in a full-blown trial fought by two motivated litigants, which is seldom the case.

After you get the legal answer, as someone in charge of a brand you will need to consider other things:

  • How long have you and the other trademark owner actually owned your trademarks?
  • How litigious is the other trademark owner?
  • How difficult would it be to negotiate a concurrent use agreement?
  • How much time and energy would it take you to rebrand your whole company?

Without knowing and considering how vested you and the other side are, changing your logo may be a task ranging from simple (e.g. – brand new internet startup using solely internet marketing) or extremely challenging endeavor (e.g. – 4 year old company producing 20,000 pairs of shoes per year using internet, print, and TV advertising), and that will weigh in on whether you will want to change your logo or not.

Thus, to answer the question of whether you need to change your branding, you will need to consider not only your legal position but also the costs of changing your brand in terms of time and money spent on re-educating your potential customer base as well as the loss of recognition in your brand due to the change.

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