Trademark lawyers have warned that moving logos may not be covered by trademark protection.
With the growing importance of the internet and social media, many brands are choosing to spruce up their logo with some animation and visual effects. However, lawyers at Withers & Rogers have warned that dynamic logos could dilute the brand owners' trademark rights and increase the likelihood of infringement.
The firm explains that, due to the difficulty involved in obtaining trademark protection for moving images, brand owners aren't applying for the protection. Alternatively, some brand owners might not be aware that the trademark protection they currently have for their static logo doesn't cover their moving logo too.
Tania Clark, an attorney at Withers & Rogers, has said: "At the moment, it is extremely complicated to obtain a trademark registration for a moving image, such as an animated logo. Both the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and the Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market (OHIM), which processes applications for Community Trade Marks, require applications to be made in a paper-based, 2D format, which means multiple stills of moving images need to be submitted.
"When trying to obtain a registration for a moving or animated image, it is not unusual to submit as many as 80 to 100 stills to ensure a view of the image from every possible perspective is provided. It can be done, but it is costly and extremely difficult, which means some brand owners are being put off from applying."
While difficult, obtaining trademark protection for moving logos is possible, but Withers & Rogers believes that the systems currently used to process registrations by the UKIPO and OHIM are outdated. Thankfully, draft legislation to modernize the European trademark system could change this. If successful, brands could be able to easily submit moving images or 3D marks for trademark protection by April 2014.
"The systems currently used to process registrations at a national and European level are archaic and urgently need updating. For this reason, the draft proposal to relax requirements relating to moving images or logos is very welcome.
"In the meantime, brand owners innovating new, dynamic applications for their corporate ID need to be aware that without trademark protection any moving images could be copied by rivals, eroding the brand's goodwill and reputation. While it is currently possible to obtain trade mark protection from OHIM for moving images, it is likely to take longer and require more documentation than other registrations."