Do you know how to copyright a phrase or slogan? A phrase or slogan is often key to a brand’s identity, conveying its values and ethos in just a few words.

Therefore, securing exclusive rights to a unique phrase or slogan is an essential step for businesses and individuals alike.

However, unlike a creative work such as a book or a song, a phrase or slogan cannot be protected by copyright, as copyright law does not cover short phrases or expressions.

Instead, phrases and slogans are commonly protected through  law.

A trademark is a recognisable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others.

This brief guide will provide a general understanding of how to protect your phrase or slogan through registration, which can be a crucial aspect of your intellectual property strategy.

Is a Slogan a Trademark or Copyright?

A slogan typically falls under the purview of law, not copyright law.

It does not generally protect short phrases, slogans, or names, as these elements are typically not considered substantial enough to meet the originality requirement for copyright protection.

This includes brand names, logos, and slogans.

If a slogan is used in commerce to represent a brand or a product, it can usually be protected as a trademark.

That said, obtaining a trademark for a slogan can sometimes be challenging, as not all slogans are eligible for  protection.

The slogan must be distinctive and not merely descriptive of the goods or services it represents. It should also not be confusingly similar to an existing trademark.

Can Slogans be Copyrighted?

Under copyright law in most jurisdictions, short phrases, expressions, or slogans are not typically eligible for copyright protection.

A slogan, being a brief and concise phrase, generally does not meet the requirement for creativity and originality that copyright law demands.

While a slogan can’t usually be copyrighted, it can often be protected under  law if it’s used to identify and distinguish a brand’s goods or services in commerce.

A  slogan can help prevent other businesses from using the same or a confusingly similar phrase in a way that could potentially mislead consumers.

It’s important to remember that intellectual property laws can vary by country, and this response provides a general explanation based on typical practices.

How to Copyright a Phrase or Slogan?

Copyright law in most jurisdictions doesn’t typically cover short phrases, slogans, or titles because copyright is intended to protect works of significant creativity, not short and/or common combinations of words.

However, you might be able to protect a phrase, slogan, or title through other means like  law.

Here’s a simplified guide on how you might proceed to trademark a phrase or slogan in the United States:

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Determine if the Phrase is Eligible

Before anything else, you should determine if your phrase or slogan is eligible for a trademark.

It must be used to identify and distinguish your goods/services from others’. Also, it cannot be generic or merely descriptive, it must suggest some sort of association.

Search for Existing Trademarks

Use TESS to make sure that your phrase or slogan is not already trademarked.

Prepare your Application

If your phrase/slogan is available, prepare an application for a trademark.

Use the Trademark

In the United States, rights to a trademark are based on use, so you need to use the phrase or slogan in commerce.

It must be used in the sale of goods or services.

Apply through the USPTO

The application will include your name and address, the name you want to trademark, the class of goods or services that the trademark will be used for, and a digital image of the trademark if it includes stylisation or design.

Pay the Fee

There will be a fee for filing a application.

Respond Promptly

If the USPTO has any questions or issues, they will send an office action letter. You will need to respond to this within six months.

Maintain Your Trademark

Once granted, you need to maintain your trademark by filing specific maintenance documents.

What is Federal Registration?

A federal trademark registration is a type of intellectual property protection provided by the United States Patent and  Office (USPTO).

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

While a service mark is the same as a trademark, except it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.

It gives the owner legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with the goods or services listed in the registration.

Federal registration offers several advantages, including:

Public Notice of Claim: Registration provides constructive notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark.

Legal Presumption of Ownership: Registration provides a legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration.

Ability to Bring Action: It allows the owner to bring an action concerning the trademark in federal court.

Use of US Registration as a Basis to Obtain Registration in Foreign Countries: If you plan to sell products or offer services internationally, having a U.S.  registration can simplify the process of getting a trademark in other countries.

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Registration Can Be Used as a Basis for Requesting Seizure of Counterfeit Goods: Registration with the USPTO can also be filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent the importation of infringing foreign goods.

Right to Use the Federal Registration Symbol: Once registered, you have the right to use the federal registration symbol ® on your goods and services.

Remember, federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark.

Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark and may allow the owner to successfully challenge the use or registration of a similar mark based on priority.

However, owning a federal  registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages.

Trademark Registration Process

The trademark registration process can be a bit complex, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Here’s a simplified guide to the steps involved in registering a trademark in the United States:

Determine if a Trademark is Needed: The first step is determining whether you actually need a trademark.

Trademarks are used to protect a brand name, logo, or slogan associated with goods or services.

Choose a Strong Mark: You want to choose a mark that is not generic or merely descriptive of your goods or services. It’s often best to choose a mark that is arbitrary or fanciful.

Identify Goods and/or Services: You must clearly identify the goods or services to which the trademark will apply. This will be necessary for the application.

Search for Similar Trademarks: Use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to see if anyone else has already registered an identical or similar mark for the same categories of goods or services.

Prepare and Submit an Application: Applications can be submitted online through the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).

Pay the Filing Fee: The USPTO requires a filing fee for each class of goods or services that the application covers.

The fee depends on the type of application form you use (TEAS Plus, TEAS Reduced Fee, or TEAS Regular).

Wait for a Response: After submitting, the application is assigned to an examining attorney at the USPTO. This usually takes about 3 months.

The examining attorney reviews the application to make sure it complies with all rules and regulations.

Respond to Office Actions: If the examining attorney has any objections, they will issue an “office action” letter.

You must respond to this within 6 months. If you fail to respond, your application will be abandoned.

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Publication for Opposition: If the examining attorney approves the mark, it will be published in the Official Gazette, a weekly publication of the USPTO.

This provides an opportunity for anyone who believes they may be harmed by registration of the mark to file an opposition.

Trademark Registration: If there is no opposition, or if you successfully overcome opposition, the USPTO will typically issue a certificate of registration.

If you filed a use-based application, you will receive the registration certificate at this point.

Maintain the Trademark: Once registered, you must maintain the trademark by filing specific maintenance documents and fees at regular intervals.


In conclusion, copyrighting a phrase or slogan isn’t typically feasible, as copyright law does not protect short phrases.

Instead, these can be protected under  law if used to distinguish a business’s goods or services.

The  registration process involves several steps, including ensuring the phrase or slogan is eligible and not already in use, applying through the USPTO, and maintaining the trademark once it’s approved.

Legal assistance is often recommended due to the intricacies of the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I copyright a phrase or slogan?

No, you can’t typically copyright a phrase or slogan because they are considered too short to be protected under copyright law, which usually applies to substantial works of creativity.

However, you can protect phrases or slogans under law if they’re used to distinguish your goods or services from those of others.

How long does it take to trademark a phrase or slogan?

The process can vary, but typically it takes several months.
After you submit your application to the USPTO, it generally takes about 3 months before an examining attorney reviews the application.

If there are no issues, the total process can take around 8-12 months.
However, if there are legal obstacles or oppositions, the process can take longer.

Do I need a lawyer to trademark a phrase or slogan?

Lawyers can help you conduct a comprehensive search, prepare and submit the application, respond to any legal issues, and ensure you’re taking the right steps to protect your phrase or slogan.