How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Name?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office shows the current fees for an electronic application range between $275 and $325 for each class of goods and services. These fees are dependent upon which type of application you file; for example, registering a paper application is your most expensive option and is currently $375 per class of goods or services.

Additional Trademark Fees to Consider

The cost of filing for trademark protection is merely the beginning. There are other associated charges you may need to pay including:

  • Hiring an attorney – while it is possible to do these filings on your own, in most cases it is worth hiring an attorney to avoid some of the most common mistakes. The cost of legal assistance can vary between $125 – several hundred dollars per hour. Some attorneys may be willing to handle the process for a flat fee.

  • Maintaining your trademark – after your trademark is approved, you will also have to pay fees to keep it active. Renewals must be filed every 10 years and typically cost $300 for electronic renewals and $400 for paper renewals.

  • State level fees – should you decide to file a trademark on the state level, the costs are typically in the range of $100 - $200. Keep in mind, this only protects your trade name in the state, federal protection is far more comprehensive as it covers you nationwide.

Changes Coming for Trademark Fees

Effective January of 2017, the basic cost of a paper filing is $600. Electronic filing will increase from $325 to $400 per class of trademark. You can learn more about the fees involved in a trademark filing by visiting the United States Patent and Trademark Office website and reading through the updated fee schedule. Remember, while the cost may seem high to you, the bottom line is the expenses for registering will protect your business in the future.

What is a trademark?

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark is:

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

  • A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. Throughout this booklet, the terms "trademark" and "mark" refer to both trademarks and service marks.

Why is a trademark important?

Trademarks can be your best marketing tool. Customers and potential customers can more readily identify your business using a trademark. Trademarks can also help you with online marketing and are considered intellectual property.

Reasons to consider not using a trademark

If your business name is similar to another company or is too generic or overly descriptive, you may want to avoid a trademark. Examples of bad trademarks would be "Good Used Cars" – this is overly descriptive, simplistic and likely unable to be trademarked.

Reasons to consider using a trademark

The primary reason to consider using a trademark is so no one else can register the same mark and compete with your brand. Think about Apple, Coca Cola or Pepsi – if anyone tries to use those names, they would be facing an intellectual property lawsuit.

Your customers will come to know you by your trademark. In today's world of social media, identity theft and trademark violations are increasingly common. The last thing you want to do is to have someone using your name to sell a competing product or even worse, to sully your business name.

What could happen when you register a trademark vs. when you don’t register a trademark?

Simply put, if someone is using your business name to compete with you, registering your trademark offers you protection. If you have not registered a trademark, you have no legal standing to protect your intellectual property from misuse.

Common mistakes when using a trademark

There are some mistakes a company often makes about trademarks which you should avoid at all costs. These include:

  1. Using the TM Symbol Incorrectly – using "TM" offers you no legal protection. Once you've registered your trademark, you can use the ® symbol. However, using ™ doesn't protect you legally if someone else registers the mark of your business.

  2. Not Using the Trademark In Commerce – businesses cannot simply register a trademark and leave it in limbo. You must use your trademark to sell products or services. You can file a separate application known as an intent to use and have up to 36 months in which to update the application using a statement of use.

  3. Not Searching For Similar Trademarks – before filing an application for a trademark, make sure you use the searchable database known as Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to ensure the trademark is not already being used. Since trademarks are granted on a first-come-first-served basis, it's important to make sure you are the first on the scene.

  4. Not Having a Distinctive Trademark – your trademark should be readily identifiable to your customers and future customers. "Quick Frosty Ice Cream" would not be something that could be trademarked as it is too generic. However, "Bob's Fast & Frosty" might be able to be trademarked.

  5. Choosing the Wrong Trademark Class – this is a potential pitfall for many companies. If you are designing new buildings and you select the name "Bob's Custom Building Design" as a trademark then it must be done in the right "classification". You cannot design t-shirts under "Bob's Custom Building Design" and be protected under the same trademark. Remember, individual products or services listed on the application must have been actively sold before a trademark can be issued.

  6. Not Enforcing Trademark Protection – you open Facebook one morning and you do a search for your company and a second company comes up in the search with an identical trademark. It's your job to pursue legal action; remember, if you simply ignore it, you could be putting your trademark in jeopardy.

Steps to Register a Trademark

Step One: Determine if a trademark application is right for your needs

Keep in mind, your business name, which is the name under which you sell goods or services may be your trademark.

 

Step Two: Preparing to apply for a trademark

Identify your mark, search the database for marks that match yours and work with a trademark attorney.

 

Step Three: Preparation and submission of applications

File the application online through the Trademark Electronic Application System and once you have submitted the application, monitor the progress. Remember, the information you submit on your application is public information once submitted. Make sure you include the required fees, particularly if you are filing a paper application.

 

Step Four: Working with attorney from USPTO

If you have met the minimum filing requirements, you will be given an application serial number. Your application will be forwarded to the legal department where it will be reviewed by an examining attorney. The examining attorney is then going to do a further examination to ensure the application meets all legal requirements. Any communication from the attorney should be responded to immediately; applicants who ignore letters for six months will have their application deemed abandoned.

 

Step Five: The approval or denial of trademark applications

Assuming no objections are lodged against a trademark, USPTO will register the mark and send the owner a certificate of registration. If your application is denied, you may need to file addendums to your application which an attorney can assist you with doing. Objections or missing statements of use can result in an examining attorney issuing a final refusal which may be appealed.

 

Step Six: Keeping your trademark registered

As a trademark owner, you need to monitor the status of your registration on an annual basis through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR). There are also specific maintenance documents which must be filed on time to keep your trademark actively registered.

Helpful Information for Trademark Registrants

Basic Facts About Trademarks

TEAS Nuts and Bolts Videos

Trademark basics - What Every Small Business Should Know Now, Not Later

Trademark Information Network (TMIN) series

Design Search Code Manual

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I get a logo trademarked?

To have a logo trademarked a jpeg file must accompany your application. Make sure you read the rules as they pertain to how to trademark your logo. Also make sure you understand the tree types of logo marks:  (1) standard character format; (2) stylized/design format; or (3) sound mark.

  • When is the right time to trademark your company's name?

The sooner you trademark your company name, the better it will be for you in the long run. Even if you have not started selling products or services, you may wish to consider filing a trademark application with an intent to use statement.

  • Can I register my name as a trademark?

Unless you have a rare name, your name should not be used as a trademark. However, there are cases where you may be able to incorporate your name into your trademark. We've cited some examples above like "Bob's Custom Home Building" – this may be acceptable. If you have any doubt about whether your name can or should be included in your trademark, a trademark attorney can help answer your questions.