How To Trademark A Photo?

How To Trademark A Photo?

Table of Contents

In the digital age, protecting your creative works is more important than ever. Photos, as valuable intellectual property, can benefit from legal protection to prevent unauthorized use and ensure your rights as the creator are upheld. Trademarking a photo is one way to secure these rights. This guide will explain the steps involved in trademarking a photo, the costs associated with it, and why it’s a crucial step for photographers and businesses alike.

Here’s to learning how to trademark a photo.

Understanding Trademarks and Copyrights

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a symbol, word, phrase, logo, or combination thereof that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods or services from those of others. Trademarks protect brand names and logos used on goods and services.

What is Copyright?

Copyright, on the other hand, protects original works of authorship, such as literary, dramatic, musical, and certain other intellectual works, including photos. Copyright grants the creator exclusive rights to use and distribute their work.

Difference Between Trademark and Copyright

While both trademarks and copyrights protect intellectual property, they serve different purposes. Copyright protects the creative expression in a photo, whereas a trademark protects a brand’s identity. For photos, copyright is typically the more relevant form of protection. However, if a photo is used as part of a brand’s identity, such as a logo, trademark protection can be beneficial.

Why Trademark a Photo?

Trademarking a photo provides legal protection, ensuring that others cannot use it without your permission. This is particularly important if the photo is used in marketing materials, as a logo, or as part of your brand’s identity. Trademarking grants you exclusive rights to use the photo in connection with your goods or services. This exclusivity prevents others from using a similar image that could confuse consumers or dilute your brand. Trademarking a photo helps in establishing and maintaining brand recognition. A trademarked image associated with your brand can become a powerful symbol of your business, making it easily recognizable to consumers.

Moreover, a trademarked photo can add value to your business by becoming a recognized part of your brand’s identity. This recognition can enhance your brand’s marketability and attractiveness to investors or buyers. Having a registered trademark acts as a deterrent against potential infringers. When others see that your photo is trademarked, they are less likely to use a similar image, knowing that they could face legal consequences.

Furthermore, trademarking your photo also establishes credibility for your brand. It shows that you take your intellectual property seriously and are committed to protecting your creative assets. This can enhance your reputation in the industry.

How to Trademark a Photo

Step 1: Ensure the Photo Qualifies for Trademark

Not all photos can be trademarked. To qualify, a photo must be used in commerce to identify and distinguish goods or services. It should not be a common or generic image.

Step 2: Conduct a Trademark Search

Before applying for a trademark, conduct a thorough search to ensure that your photo is unique and not already trademarked. The USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) can be used for this purpose.

How to Conduct a Trademark Search

  1. Access the TESS Database: Visit the USPTO website and navigate to the TESS database.
  2. Search for Similar Trademarks: Enter keywords related to your photo and review the results.
  3. Identify Potential Conflicts: Look for any existing trademarks that could be considered similar to your photo.

Step 3: Choose a Strong Trademark

A strong trademark is distinctive and easily distinguishable from others. Avoid generic or descriptive images that may not qualify for trademark protection.

Step 4: Prepare Your Trademark Application

Once you have confirmed that your photo can be trademarked, you need to prepare your application. This involves gathering all necessary information and documentation.

Required Information and Documents

  1. Description of the Photo: A detailed description of the photo you wish to trademark.
  2. Specimen of Use: Examples of how the photo is used in commerce (e.g., on products, marketing materials).
  3. Drawing of the Photo: A clear representation of the photo.
  4. Filing Fee: The applicable fee for filing your trademark application.

Step 5: File Your Trademark Application

You can file your trademark application with the USPTO using their Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). There are three filing options to choose from:


  • Fee: $250 per class of goods or services.
  • Requirements: Must meet specific requirements, including agreeing to receive communications via email and using pre-approved descriptions for your goods or services.

TEAS Reduced Fee (TEAS RF)

  • Fee: $275 per class of goods or services.
  • Requirements: Offers more flexibility than TEAS Plus but still requires email communication.

TEAS Regular

  • Fee: $350 per class of goods or services.
  • Requirements: Provides the most flexibility, allowing submission of additional materials outside the TEAS system.

Step 6: Monitor Your Application

After submitting your application, it will be reviewed by a USPTO examining attorney. This review process can take several months. During this time, you can monitor the status of your application on the USPTO website.

Step 7: Respond to Office Actions

If the examining attorney identifies any issues with your application, you will receive an office action. This document outlines the reasons for refusal and may request additional information or clarification.

How to Respond

  1. Review the Office Action: Carefully read the comments and requests from the examining attorney.
  2. Provide Additional Information: Submit any additional documents or explanations as requested.
  3. Amend the Application: Make any necessary changes to your application to address the issues.

Step 8: Registration and Maintenance

Once your trademark application is approved, your photo will be registered, and you will receive a registration certificate. To maintain your trademark, you must continue to use the photo in commerce and file periodic maintenance documents with the USPTO.

Maintenance Requirements

  1. Declaration of Use: Filed between the fifth and sixth year after registration.
  2. Renewal Application: Filed every ten years to keep the trademark active.

How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Photo?

The cost of trademarking a photo depends on the filing option you choose and the number of classes of goods or services your photo falls under.

Filing Fees

  1. TEAS Plus: $250 per class of goods or services.
  2. TEAS Reduced Fee (TEAS RF): $275 per class.
  3. TEAS Regular: $350 per class.

Additional Costs

  1. Trademark Attorney Fees: If you hire an attorney, expect to pay additional fees for their services.
  2. Search Fees: Conducting a comprehensive trademark search may involve additional costs.
  3. Maintenance Fees: Periodic fees are required to maintain your trademark registration.

Budgeting for the Trademarking Process

When budgeting for the trademarking process, consider the following factors:

  • Filing Fees: Depending on the TEAS option you choose, filing fees can range from $250 to $350 per class of goods or services.
  • Additional Class Fees: If your photo applies to multiple classes, you will need to pay additional fees.
  • Legal Assistance: If you decide to hire an attorney or use a legal website, factor in these costs as well.

Benefits of Working with a Trademark Attorney

Expert Guidance

Trademark attorneys provide expert guidance throughout the trademarking process. They can help you navigate complex legal requirements and ensure your application is correctly filed.

Increased Chances of Approval

Working with a trademark attorney can increase the chances of your application being approved. They can help you avoid common mistakes and provide valuable advice on strengthening your trademark.

Handling Legal Issues

If any legal issues arise during the trademarking process, a trademark attorney can represent you and handle these matters. This can save you time and reduce the stress of dealing with legal complexities.

Using a Trademark Service


Using an online trademark service can provide a convenient way to file your application. These services guide you through the process and handle much of the paperwork for you.


Online trademark services are often more cost-effective than hiring a trademark attorney. They provide a middle ground between doing it yourself and seeking professional legal help.

Support and Resources

Many trademark services offer support and resources to help you understand the trademarking process. This can be especially useful if you are unfamiliar with trademark law.

We Are Here To Serve You!

Trademarking a photo is a crucial step in protecting your creative works and ensuring that your brand’s identity is secure. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can manage the trademarking process with confidence and secure your photo’s unique identity. If you want to know more about trademarks and costs, reach out to us today!

We Are Here To Serve You!

Trademarking a photo is a crucial step in protecting your creative works and ensuring that your brand’s identity is secure. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can manage the trademarking process with confidence and secure your photo’s unique identity. If you want to know more about trademarks and costs, reach out to us today!