Updated July 8, 2020:

How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Phrase?

If you have ever asked yourself how much does it cost to trademark a phrase, according to the current fee schedule on the USPTO, trademark registration fees cost $275 per mark per class. If you need an attorney's assistance, the cost averages around $1,000 to $2,000.

What Does It Mean to Trademark a Phrase?

A trademark is a unique identifier of the source of a product. It must be distinctive and directly related to your business, products, or services. You can trademark any of the following:

  • Phrase
  • Business name
  • Logo
  • Symbol

You can also often trademark domain names. However, you can't usually trademark social media usernames.

A trademark is distinct from a service mark, which identifies the unique source of the service. It's generally found on advertising for related services.

A trademark differs from both a patent and a copyright. Patents apply to inventions and designs. Copyrights apply to original works of art or authorship.

When you trademark a phrase, you gain the exclusive rights to use the trademark for profit. A trademark serves as "constructive notice" of your ownership. This doesn't automatically prevent third parties from using your trademark, though.

Instead, you must enforce your rights. If you see an infringer using your trademark to make money, n you can send a cease and desist letter. You may also be able to sue them.

What Are the Filing Fees to Trademark a Phrase?

Anyone pursuing a trademark can file an application with the USPTO directly.

Direct Filing Fees

When you file directly with the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), you can choose from three basic options:

  • TEAS Plus 
    • $225 basic filing fee
    • an upfront $125 fee for additional class of goods or services
    • ability to receive further communications via email
  • TEAS Reduced Fee
    • $275 basic filing fee
    • option to pay $125 fee for additional class of goods or services later
    • ability to receive further communications via email
  • TEAS Regular 
    • $400 basic filing fee
    • fee for adding classes of goods and services
    • option to submit further application materials outside of the TEAS system

Direct Maintenance Fees

All trademarks require maintenance fees to keep them active. The following fees apply no matter your original filing level:

  • Five Years: Select a date between fifth and sixth anniversaries of your original registration date. You must file a Section 8 Affidavit to show continued use. The fee for this is $125.
  • 10 Years: Select a date between the ninth and 10th anniversaries of your original registration date. You must file a Section 9 Affidavit. Request a renewal of your original registration period. The fee for this is $400.

Advantages of Filing Directly With the USPTO

  • Low Cost: This is the cheapest option for registering a trademark.
  • High Self-Sufficiency: Applicants have full control over their applications, submissions, and correspondence.

Disadvantages of Filing Directly With the USPTO

  • Time-Intensive: Applicants are fully responsible for compiling their own application materials and submitting them.
  • Higher Potential for Failure: Applicants who misfile or make application mistakes. They may have limited options for amending a mistake. They may have to submit an entirely new application in the event of rejection.

Many legal websites can help with filing trademark applications.

Legal Website Filing Fees

The average cost for this service is $500, with the USPTO filing fee included. This typically includes:

  • a basic trademark search 
  • basic editing services for the application that you completed

Legal Website Monitoring Fees

Some legal websites offer the option to monitor news sources for mentions of your trademark. This can help you discover instances of trademark infringement quickly. The average cost for this is $500 per year.

Advantages of Filing Through a Legal Website

  • Affordable Cost: This is a midrange option for registering a trademark.
  • Moderate Assistance: These services won't usually complete applications. However, they will edit and submit them. This can be helpful for new applicants. 
  • Protection From Dilution: Using a third-party trademark monitoring service can help you protect your trademark from dilution. This happens when multiple infringers use your trademark and compromise its purpose.

Disadvantages of Filing Through a Legal Website

  • No Communication Assistance: Most legal websites don't communicate with the USPTO on applicants' behalf. Applicants who receive notices of communications or Office Actions from the USPTO must handle them independently.
  • Moderate Potential for Failure: Most services don't provide extensive trademark searches or let the applicant know whether or not the application is valid. Applicants who use these services can still experience application rejection.

In addition, some illegitimate online services contact trademark owners after the registration process is complete. They offer to publish notice of the trademark for a high fee. These are considered scams since the USPTO already publishes official trademark notices in its register.

What Are the Attorney Fees for Trademarking a Phrase?

Some attorneys specialize in trademark application and enforcement.

Attorney Filing Fees

Trademark attorneys perform extensive trademark searches. They offer assessments of the strength of trademark applications. They know to search beyond the USPTO database. They can look for common law trademarks. They can also find companies that have used trademarks without official registration.

Most attorneys also compile and submit the form on applicants' behalf. They typically charge flat fees or hourly fees that average between $1,000 and $2,000. This fee usually includes the USPTO filing fee.

Most trademark attorneys also file maintenance paperwork and can help clients track the appropriate due dates. They typically charge hourly rates for this service.

Advantages of Filing With an Attorney

  • Highest Level of Assistance: Applicants with complicated cases will benefit from the help of a trademark attorney. Many attorneys also help with USPTO Office Actions. They will file additional paperwork if you need it.
  • Higher Potential for Success: Attorneys can't guarantee an application's acceptance. However, they can increase the chances of acceptance significantly. They can also argue cases on applicants' behalf if a third party files an objection.

Disadvantages of Filing With an Attorney

  • High Cost: Filing with an attorney comes with the highest upfront cost.

Common Mistakes

  • Not Weighing Trademark Filing Options in Advance: Applicants should do their best to understand the complexity of their application and the trademark process before registering a trademark. Many individuals can sucessfully submit simple trademark applications directly. However, applicants with complex cases can easily pay more if they attempt to file directly. This is especially true if they have to submit multiple applications. It's also true if they seek out legal help at a later point in the process.
  • Not Filing a Trademark Application at All: The complexity of the trademark application process can deter applicants. However, choosing not to file a trademark application can lead to business disruptions and extensive legal fees later.
  • Not Enforcing or Maintaining a Trademark: Applying to trademark a phrase is just the first step of the process. Owners must use, enforce, and maintain their trademarks to keep them effective.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Is a Catch Phrase?

This is an expression that becomes popular when a real or ficitonal character repeats it regularly. It's an important part of many company's marketing and promotional efforts.

To gain exclusive rights to use your trademark in your state. Register your business with your Secretary of State. Apply for state trademark protection. If you do interstate commerce, you should apply for a federal trademark with the USPTO. This gives you nationwide trademark rights.

  • Does a Trademark Offer Foreign Rights? 

No, a USPTO trademark offers protection in the U.S. only. Say you want to protect your trademark around the world. To do this, register your trademark under:

A USPTO trademark can offer protection from the import of goods that infringe your trademark, though. Once registered, file it with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

  • How Long Does It Take to Trademark a Phrase? 

It generally takes one to three years to complete the application and registration process. The USPTO often registers trademarks within one year. However, the process can take up to three if there are legal issues to address.

  • Do You Really Need a Lawyer to Register a Trademark? 

Over half of trademark applications receive an initial rejection every year. This is usually due to incomplete applications and improper filing. A lawyer can assist with both of these issues. They can increase your chance of a successful application.

Steps to Register a Trademark

1. Decide How to File: Weigh the options. Decide to file directly, through a legal website, or with the assistance of an attorney.

2. Review the Current Fee Schedule: The USPTO occasionally updates its standard fee schedule. Review the current fee schedule before submitting your application.

3. Search for Similar Trademarks: Do a search in the USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to confirm that no similar trademark already exists. This database includes all registered trademarks.

4. Apply to Trademark a Phrase: File your trademark application through the USPTO TEAS portal. Include the following materials in your application:

  • Statement of Use
  • List of Preexisting Examples of Use
  • Drawing of the Trademark
  • Specimen of the Trademark
  • Filing Fee

5. Use Your Trademark: Until your trademark is official, you can only use the TM or SM symbols. Once your trademark is official, you can use the ® symbol to notify others of your trademark status.

If you need help with registering a trademark, you can post your question or concern 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. They average 14 years of legal experience. This includes work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.