How much does it cost to trademark a name? The current fees for the USPTO for an electronic application range between $275 and $325 for each class of goods and services. However, these prices may vary.

How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Name?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shows that 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.

What Can Be Trademarked?

In essence, almost anything can be a trademark. Some of the items most often trademarked include:

  • Created words.
  • Dictionary words.
  • Phrases.
  • Slogans.
  • Colors.
  • Shapes.
  • Logos.
  • Names.

What is more important to focus on is the identity of the trademark over what can actually be trademarked. One of the biggest factors when it comes to trademarking something is that the item must in some way distinguish your business from another.

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 the following:

  • 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 range between $125 to 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 costs 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 that the expenses of registering will protect your business in the future.

What Is a Trademark?

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office:

  • 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. Often, the terms "trademark" and "mark" refer to both trademarks and service marks.

Three Types of Trademarks

When it comes to categorizing trademarks, the trademark will fall into one of three categories.

  • Service marks and trademarks. This category will cover symbols, words, or phrases that give definition to a company's goods or services. Trademarks are specific to goods and service marks to services.
  • Certification marks. These marks will provide details about the specifics of a product, such as that it is 50-percent polyester or 40-percent recycled.
  • Collective marks. These are the same as trademarks but extend to a group of trademarks that are owned by a business.

Items That May Be Difficult to Trademark

While most any type of item can be trademarked, there are specifics of certain items that can be rather difficult. Among the items that you may run into problems with when attempting to get a trademark for are the following:

  • Names of geographic places.
  • Names that are generic.
  • Descriptions that are not distinguishable from others.
  • A surname for a product.

There are also items that you legally cannot trademark, which include:

  • A government symbol or insignia.
  • Vulgar words or phrases.
  • Generic phrases or terms.
  • Someone's likeness or proper name (without obtaining permission).
  • The likeness of the current president or former ones.
  • Motifs.
  • Immoral symbols or words.
  • Deceptive symbols or words.

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.

Potential Consequences of Registering vs. Not Registering

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 common mistakes regarding trademarks that you should avoid at all costs. These include:

  • 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.
  • 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 with a statement of use.
  • Not searching for similar trademarks. Before filing an application for a trademark, make sure you use the searchable database known as the 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 using 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.
  • Not enforcing trademark protection. You open Facebook one morning and 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.

Things to Do Before Filing for a Trademark

They are several steps you should take before filing for a trademark to help make sure your application process goes as quickly as possible. The first step in the process of obtaining a trademark is performing a trademark search. This will let you know if there is any conflict with any existing businesses or trademarks. You can perform a quick and simple search at the United States Patent and Trademark Office under the "Search Trademark Database."

A search is as simple as putting the name you have chosen into the search bar. The results will return with any names or trademarked words or phrases that are similar. It is important to note that you still may be able to trademark a name that is similar to yours, but it will be up to the trademark office to make the final determination.

If your trademark application is denied by the office, you will be required to come up with a new name, pay an additional fee, and start the process over again. Your trademark may be denied on the basis of being confusingly similar to another. This is why performing a search at the beginning is so important. You will also want to make sure to apply in a timely fashion, as the trademark will be granted to the person who applies first.

Steps to Register a Trademark

  1. Determine if a trademark application is right for your needs. Keep in mind that your business name, which is the name under which you sell goods or services, may be your trademark.
  2. Prepare to apply for a trademark. Identify your mark, search the database for marks that match yours, and work with a trademark attorney.
  3. Prepare and submit your application. 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.
  4. Work with an 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.
  5. Receive approval or denial of your trademark application. 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.
  6. Keep 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

Federal Filing Fee for a Trademark

To obtain a federal trademark is a much more expensive process. The filing fees start at $275, but it comes with many benefits that a state filed trademark would not have. This type of trademark will allow recognition of your trademark throughout the United States instead of just in the state that your business is located. This can be important if you plan to use a website to sell products, as it is most likely to involve national sales.

A federal trademark is almost considered a necessity for anyone who wants their brand to be recognized and protected anywhere outside of the state. Federal trademarks are popular with items such as clothing lines and brands or jewelry.

When you have multiple items in a line that will need their own trademark, you will be required to pay the federal filing fee for each of the products with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. There are some special situations where the price for registering a group of trademarks can be reduced to $225 for each trademark. You can consult with a trademark attorney to see if this is possible.

Trademark Cost Per Class

A class is the type of services or goods that the trademark will apply to, and the cost is $275 per class. Overall, there are 45 different classes that you can obtain a trademark in.

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 three types of logo marks: standard character format, stylized/design format, and 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, such as "Bob's Custom Home Building," that 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.

If you need help with trademark registration, 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, Stripe, and Twilio.