Updated July 9, 2020: 

The DIY trademark process involves comprehensive research, detailed drawings, and a lengthy application, so make sure you complete everything thoroughly.

Trademark Overview

A trademark is a word, symbol, phrase, design, or any combination of these that distinguishes your goods or services. The trademark helps consumers differentiate your products from those offered by competitors. It also protects your business from those who imitate your products and those who want to make money off you by diverting potential sales.

You can proclaim an original trademark at your own discretion. All you need to do is apply a TM symbol whenever your trademark occurs. This application gives you limited legal protection, but for full protection, you need to register your trademark with the federal government.

Trademark Costs

When you register a trademark with the U.S. government, expect to pay between $225 and $2,000. Payment breakdowns include the following:

  • DIY Filing. If you file yourself, you will pay between $225 and $400. The cost varies depending if you use an electronic or paper application as well as the requirements listed on the application. You also gain access to a free trademark search tool.
  • Online Legal Service. Using an online service costs around $500. You gain access to a review of the trademark specimen, application preparation, and digital copy of the application.
  • Trademark Attorney. This option costs around $1,500 to $2,000. With a lawyer, you get feedback on the trademark as well as access to comprehensive trademark search at the state level and online.

No matter what option you select when registering your trademark, you must pay fees to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO application only covers the United States, so if you're looking to trademark in other countries, it's a separate process. You also need to check other trademarks for conflicts, and you can use the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to do so.

The USPTO charges varying rates based upon the forms you use. The Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) is available online or you can send in paperwork through the mail. When submitting the trademark design, the USPTO wants only one drawing of two types.

  • One must have a basic character drawing void of a design. Don't worry about the font style, color, or size of the drawing. This drawing protects your text use.
  • The other drawing shows designs, graphics, stylization, logos, and colors. Some applications refer to this drawing as possessing design marks or stylized marks.

If you're on the fence with filing the trademark yourself and using a lawyer, try an online legal service. Fees charged on these sites are in addition to those you must pay to the USPTO. The online site lets you do a basic trademark search so you don't have to do it on your own as well as helps you fill out the USPTO application. This reduces your error rate. The service also helps with digitizing your drawing.

Trademark Lawyer

When figuring out which trademark lawyer to use, you must consider what you get for the money. Some benefits of hiring a trademark lawyer include the following:

  • The trademark lawyer provides experienced feedback. An experienced lawyer can give you guidance about the business name and logo so you pass the USPTO on your first try.
  • The trademark lawyer helps with the professional search. Since the USPTO application requires numerous documents, they can make sure you have everything necessary.
  • The trademark lawyer addresses any application complications. If your application gets rejected, the lawyer can help you respond.

Register a Trademark

To officially register a trademark, there are several steps you must take.

  • Identify the trademark you want to register. You can register a trademark you already use commercially or one that you plan to use.
  • Make sure you need a trademark. The trademarks include the names of your company or product, mascots, marketing slogans, and brands.
  • Determine the specific goods or services you want your trademark to represent. You can't use a trademark for anything; it must refer to aspects of your business.
  • Search the USPTO database. Make sure that nobody else uses your potential trademark.
  • Download the trademark application. Visit the USPTO to find the information, and fill out the application. You can submit it to the USPTO online or send it by mail. Don't forget to include the application fee.

If you need help with a DIY trademark, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.