When we begin working with a client for trademark registration for the first time, there are several questions we encounter quite regularly. In an effort to help anyone who is new to protecting their brand have a better understanding about the work, here are my top three questions about Trademarks and Trademark Law.
Question 1: What Is A Trademark?
In its simplest form, a trademark identifies the source of goods and services. Consider the brands you recognize as you go shopping:
- Nike® athletic gear
- Kellogg’s® cereals
- Honda® automobiles
As a consumer, you have a particular idea about the nature and quality of the goods offered under those brands, and you probably have specific preferences. Good or bad, every parent knows that a Chicken McNugget® in Colorado Springs is the same as one in Atlanta and in Boston. We can count on that consistency.
Question 2: What Is A Federal Trademark Registration?
A federal registration is granted to the owner of a mark registered by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) and is legal recognition of your trademark rights throughout the United States of America.
No other business is permitted to use the mark, or a mark that is “confusingly similar,” in connection with those specific goods and services, without authorization. U.S. Customs and retailers such as Amazon® or search engines such as Google® and Yahoo® will recognize these rights and work with trademark owners to keep third parties from unauthorized use of their marks.
In the case of infringement, a federal registration makes it far easier for trademark owners to shift the legal burden to the other party. While you may elect to register your trademark only within your state, this process does not offer you the same protections and legal rights that a federal registration will provide.
Question 3: How Much Does Trademark Registration Cost?
Without trying to sound too much like an attorney, well, it depends. The nature of your brand and the possibility that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) will object to the application are two factors that affect the time and cost required to gain an approved trademark registration. Of course, the more unique your mark is, the less objection is it likely to encounter and the less expensive your registration process may be.
The PTO charges a set filing fee per class of goods, per application. For an estimate on those fees, you will need to speak with a qualified trademark attorney. When it comes to attorney fees to file the initial application, those typically range between $750 – $1500 per application, depending on the attorney’s level of experience and the complexity of the application. Additional fees apply as further steps are required or if there are objections from the PTO or third parties. Generally, we advise clients to budget $1800 -$3000 to complete the application process for each mark being registered.
One important note here, it’s a far smaller investment to register a mark and do so correctly than it is to try to defend a mark that was correctly filed or not filed at all. If your mark is not correctly protected with the PTO, you can spend much more than $2,000 in both legal fees and business expenses to defend your brand or deal with copycat offenders who try to use a similar mark.
Ready For The Next Step?
These are some of the most common questions we see, but we know you may have more. If you’re ready to register your mark, please feel free to reach out. But if you still have questions, we are happy to answer them. With over 20 years of experience in the trademark field, we can help you with any of your trademark questions, just ask.