Cost of a Trademark / How Much is a Trademark


*Please see an update to the costs in our new blog post: US Trademark Fees Reduced*

Often, there is a misconception that filing for a U.S. trademark can cost thousands. The reality: you can file a trademark for as little as $275. However, there are some decisions you need to make along the way that can increase this cost, but can also increase your odds of landing a registration.

Filing for Trademark Registration Yourself
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows individuals to apply for trademarks online. This is quite an improvement from the days of paper filings through Certified Mail. The first steps for trademark owners are deciding whether to file a TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System) or TEAS Plus application, as well as whether to file a section 1(a) actual use or 1(b) intent to use application. Here’s where two roads diverge into different trademark costs.

Filing a TEAS Plus Application = $275
In order to qualify under a TEAS Plus application the applicant needs to:
1. Provide name, address, and email (and allow the Office to contact you via email);
2. Use a description of your goods/services that complies with the Office’s Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual;
3. If the mark identifies a person’s name, a signed authorization from the person to use that name;
4. If including a design, a .jpg of the mark; and
5. If non-english, a translation.
(There are a few others, but these are the main requirements)

Filing a TEAS Application = $325
This type of application does not require the above clarifications. In addition, you may list the goods/services under your own description. However, an Examining Attorney may require you to be more specific with your description in a future Office action.

Section 1(a) Actual Use Application or 1(b) Intent to Use Application
After you decide to file a TEAS or TEAS Plus application, the USPTO will ask you to clarify your filing basis. Actual use means you have already used the name in commerce. If you have already used the name you will file for a 1(a) basis if you have not used the mark you file the application as 1(b). A 1(a) application will not cost you more than the filing fee of $275 or $325. A 1(b) application will cost you an additional $100 to file a Statement of Use or Amendment to Allege Use, which is simply a statement of use and proof of use of your mark.

1(a) = $275 or $325 (depending on TEAS or TEAS Plus)
1(b) = $375 or $425 (filing fee + additional filing requirement and depending on TEAS or TEAS Plus)

Using an Attorney to Help you File
According to a study published in Stanford Technology Law Review, and as reported by the Wall Street Journal, trademark applicants are 50% more likely to receive a registration if they use a trademark attorney. With you can get a comprehensive trademark search as well as trademark registration for $475 + Govt. fees.

Without a comprehensive trademark search prior to filing you leave yourself open to a rejection from the USPTO (losing your $275 or $325 to the USPTO), a waste of the time in which your trademark was pending (which can be up to seven months), as well as your potential infringement of a conflicting mark. The median price for trademark litigation in 2011 excluding damages was $384,000. As a result, a trademark search is necessary prior to filing.

Paying an attorney to handle your trademark can prevent unintentional infringement, a waste of time, as well as a loss of your USPTO filing fees. In addition, using an attorney increases your odds of obtaining trademark registration.

*Please see an update to the costs in our new blog post: US Trademark Fees Reduced*

If you would like a trademark attorney to handle your registration use

Published July 26, 2013 by Brent Sausser.


What is a Common Law Trademark?

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A common misconception in trademark law is the belief trademark rights in the United States requires the mark to be formally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).  This is not the case.  Instead, U.S. trademark law is based on a first-use system and trademark rights can be established simply by continuous use of the mark in connection with goods or services.  Federal registration is, therefore, not a prerequisite to trademark rights in the U.S.

So what does this mean for you and your business?  Assuming the name does not infringe on an already registered trademark, this means once you start using your mark in connection with your goods or services you have a common law trademark.  Simply put, all you need to do is use the mark to have common law trademark rights.  This is true even if someone subsequently files for federal registration of the same name.  With that said, a common law trademark is not a replacement for a federally registered trademark.  In fact, there are several important reasons why you should still register your trademark with the USPTO.

The biggest problem with a common law trademark is the rights conferred to you are substantially more limited than the rights you would have if you federally registered your mark.  One reason for this is because rights from a common law trademark are limited to the geographical area in which you sell or offer your goods or services.  This means that if you have only conducted business in the New England area, your rights to the mark would not extend to other parts of the country.  Although there are instances where a name can acquire national common law trademark rights, this is very rare and difficult to achieve.  Conversely, by successfully registering your mark with the USPTO you automatically acquire nationwide rights to the registered mark.  Assuming another person does not already have common law rights in the name, this would then allow you to preclude any subsequent person from using the name in relation to the goods or services you provide anywhere in the country.

Another reason federal registration is important is it places everyone on notice of your exclusive right to use the mark as it relates to your goods or services.  This is important because it will allow you to prevent any subsequent person from acquiring common law rights in the mark after you have registered the name.  Given the global economy we live in today, this is particularly important because it is becoming easier for people to reach a large population base to sell their particular goods and services.  As a result, the potential for consumer confusion is a much greater threat to businesses than it was twenty years ago.

Finally, federally registering your mark is also beneficial because it helps to impede another person filing suit against you for trademark infringement.  Recently, there have been many cases of small companies with valid common law rights to a mark being sued by big companies who now wish to use the name and have acquired federal registration of the mark.  Although these small companies theoretically have common law trademark rights to their name, the risk of a lawsuit does not outweigh changing their name.  This is because trademark infringement lawsuits easily will run a company more than $200,000 in legal fees, an expense most businesses cannot afford.  As a result they have no choice but to stop using their name and opt for another name.

These are just some of the benefits of acquiring federal registration.  To see more benefits of federally registering your mark, please visit the USPTO Website.  If you have a mark and are interested in more information regarding trademark registration with the USPTO, please visit Online Trademark Attorneys.

Published July 2, 2013 by Alex Spurr.