Updated June 22, 2020:

The cost to trademark a logo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is $275–$660 as of June 2020, plus legal fees. You can register a trademark with your state for $50-$150, but federal registration offers a great deal more legal protection.

The USPTO offers four different forms, each with different pricing. If you file online using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), you can choose from three options. File a regular TEAS for $400 or a TEAS RF for $275. You can file a TEAS Plus for $225 if you meet certain terms, such as fitting neatly into one of the standard business groups. Which form you can use will depend on your business and your logo. You can also opt to file a paper form for a flat rate of $600. These fees are valid as of June 2020, according to the USPTO website .

Most businesses also choose to pay a lawyer. A law office can conduct a better search to make sure your logo or business name doesn't belong to anyone else and can help make sure your application is approved. Lawyers might charge between $500 and $2000 to prepare a federal trademark application.

A logo is a design that your company uses on its products, signs, or ads to identify yourself. A logo is often a visual image of your company name, like the logos for Coca-Cola or McDonald's. Other logos are designs that represent a company without using words, like the Apple logo or the Nike swoosh.

What Is a Trademark?

Trademark offers the legal right to keep others from using your company name, logo or tagline . Any design, symbol, word, or phrase that denotes your business as the source of a product can be protected by trademark. If your company sells services rather than goods, you would use a "service mark" instead of trademark, but most people use the word "trademark" for both.

State or Federal Filing?

Getting a trademark from your state is easier and less expensive than filing federally, but only protects you within your state. A federally registered trademark gives you much broader protection and a number of extra benefits:

  • "Prima facie" proof of ownership (courts accept your ownership without further proof)
  • A listing in the USPTO's online records
  • The right to use the ® symbol with your logo
  • Public notice of the trademark, so an infringer can't claim they didn't know about your trademark even if you don't use the ® symbol
  • The right to file a lawsuit in Federal Court if someone else uses your logo
  • The right to recover cash damages and attorney's fees in Federal Court if you've used the symbol "®" on your logo
  • The right to record the trademark with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service to block counterfeits at the border
  • The right to register your logo in foreign countries
  • You can apply before you start using the mark

State Trademark

Corporations and LLCs: Business names are registered with the state when they form their business entity. No other business entity can be formed in your state using your name. Business entity formation fees vary by state but are usually under $150.

Sole proprietors and partnerships: Smaller businesses are usually required to register a "fictitious name" form with the state, county, or city. This is often referred to as a DBA ("doing business as") form. Costs vary widely by region, but $50–$150 is typical.

If your logo consists of your business name in a special font or style, no one in your state will be able to copy your logo once your business name is registered. If your logo doesn't include your business name, or you want an extra layer of protection, register your logo with your Secretary of State's office.

Federal Trademark

Register your trademark at the federal level by filing an application with the USPTO. Paper applications are accepted, but electronic applications through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) or via an online service are preferred. Using TEAS will save you money; the fees for e-applications are $225–$400, while a paper application will cost you $600. If you use your logo for multiple classes — like if you run a diner and also sell t-shirts — you'll need to apply once for each class. Filing fees are not refunded if you are not approved.

Global Business Trademarks

Foreign-owned businesses who want to trademark their logos in the United States have three options: A foreign application, a foreign registration, or a Madrid Protocol application.

U.S. based businesses that want to protect their trademarks overseas will need to register with the government in each country where they plan to engage in trade. Holding a federal trademark will make that process easier.

Holding a trademark for your logo offers you protection against imported goods that might bear a similar logo.

Some business owners choose to skip the legal fees and do the work themselves. Filing a trademark is much simpler than many legal issues like applying for a patent. It's possible to file an application at the USPTO website in 90 minutes or less.

But there are compelling reasons to hire an attorney. More than 50 percent of trademark filings (some sources say 80 percent) are rejected at first. Completing the process takes between six months and three years, which is a huge distraction for someone trying to build a business. The forms and instructions are written using legal jargon and can be confusing to non-attorneys.

An expert trademark attorney will charge $1,000–$2,000. A lawyer can offer other services like a deeper search for conflicts and ideas to make your logo more unique and useful. An attorney will also help if your application is rejected, while a legal service website will simply forward the rejection to you. Legal services can often do the same work for a lower cost .

If your initial filing isn't approved, you could end up paying an attorney anyway to sort out any problems that arise.

A good attorney can also save you money in the long run by ensuring that your logo doesn't conflict with anyone else's trademarks. They will also know how to identify the most relevant business class and fill out the paperwork properly to protect your brand identity. If you are hiring an attorney, ask for referrals from other business owners so you can hire an expert in trademark law .

Many business owners don't realize that their logo is protected even without being registered . As soon as you use your logo in commerce it is covered by common law trademark protections at the local level. You are legally allowed to claim your logo by using the ™ symbol near it. You'll need to register with your state or with the USPTO to be protected outside your area.

You might also choose not to register your logo if you can't afford to register both your logo and your name. If you have to choose one, it's best to trademark your company name . Small-scale business owners often create their own logos and may want to change them as time goes by. If someone else starts using your logo, it might be less costly to create a new one rather than going to court. Also, your company name will likely be part of your logo, your domain name, and other branding applications. If you register your company name, you'll be able to protect your brand more broadly than if you just protect your logo.

Common law protection only covers your logo in your local region if you don't register, and doesn't apply at all if someone else is already using the same design. Registering your trademark with the USPTO gives you protection in all states. Holding a federal trademark lets you register your logo in other countries and sue in federal court to protect your branding. Lawsuits let you collect cash awards or even press criminal charges against anyone who tries to use your logo. You'll also be making sure that you're not violating someone else's trademark by using a similar symbol.

Common Mistakes

  • Not thoroughly researching to make sure your logo isn't too similar to one that's already registered
  • Not choosing the correct class of business, or not applying for more than one class if you have multiple revenue streams
  • Trademarking your logo but not your business name
  • Choosing an attorney with no trademark experience

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does trademark differ from copyright and patent?

All three terms refer to legal protections for intellectual property, but they cover different areas. Trademarks (or service marks) are used to protect business names, phrases, and logos that identify your company. Copyright protection covers creative works like books, songs, dances, or works of art. Patents protect inventions, systems of production, and chemical structures.

  • What are the filing fees to trademark a logo?

Federal fees range from $225–$600 per business class, depending on the method of filing, plus attorney fees.

  • Are logos protected by Trademark Law if they aren't registered?

Using a logo on your products, packaging, signs, or print ads makes a logo legally yours if no one else in the area is already using it. That ownership only applies locally, though, and you will have to be able to prove that you were the first to use it if you want to protect it in court.

Verify Legality: You can't trademark very generic or common designs. If your logo resembles common symbols like a street sign or an emoji you probably won't be granted a trademark for it.

Trademark Search: You or your attorney need to search the Trademark Electronic Search System files for any businesses with similar logos. An attorney will usually charge $300 and up for a thorough search. It's also possible to hire a search company such as Thomson CompuMark to search the records for you. A full search is vital to make sure you can't be sued by someone who is already using your logo and to be certain your application won't be denied. If you try to trademark a logo that is already taken, your application will be denied and fees will not be refunded.

A logo belongs to the first business who uses it in a region, whether it's registered or not. If another company is using a logo that you were using first you may have some recourse. But you should probably address that with the other company before you apply for your trademark.

Trademark Application: This step usually costs $275 if you file online with the USPTO, plus attorney fees of $200 and up. You need to file a separate application and pay a separate fee for each class of goods or services your business engages in. The USPTO has a list of 45 different classes, such as "jewelry products" or "plumbing." If you engage in more than one class of business, you'll need to file a separate application for each, but most businesses only need one. If you're already using the logo, you'll file a regular application. If not, you'll file a special "intent to use" application, which is a little more complex.

The USPTO prefers electronic applications at its website, www.uspto.gov. Fax applications are not accepted. Paper applications should be mailed to Commissioner for Trademarks, P.O. Box 1451, Alexandria, VA 22313-1451.

Review: Once your application is filed, it will be reviewed by an examining attorney. That person's job is to decide whether your trademark request complies with the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. §1051 et seq., and the Trademark Rules of Practice, 37 C.F.R. Part 2. This process can take several months.

Office Action: If the trademark office finds issues that need to be addressed, they will send an "office action" asking you or your attorney to address the problems.

Opposition: If you aren't denied during the review, the USPTO will put your logo up for "opposition." This process allows anyone already using the logo to protest your logo if it's similar to theirs. If no one opposes, your trademark will be listed on either the Primary or Supplemental Register and you will own the logo.

Statement of Use: If you were not already using your logo at the time of filing, the USPTO will issue a Notice of Allowance about 12 weeks after you apply. You then have six months to either file a Statement of Use (with a $100 fee) or request a six-month extension.

Maintain: Five years later, you need to submit a "Declaration of Continued Use" along with a $100 fee and proof that you are still using the logo. After nine years, you need to file a renewal, along with a fee of $400-$500 per class of goods/services.

Trademark Watch: You'll need to watch for others who try to use your logo so you can enforce your rights and protect your brand. Your attorney or a trademark company like Thomson Compumark can set up a "trademark watch" that will alert you when someone else's logo matches yours too closely. You can respond by sending a cease and desist letter or by bringing a lawsuit.

About six months after filing, you should receive a serial number that you can use to check the status of your application. The whole process usually takes between six and nine months but can stretch on for up to three years in complex cases.

Where to Get Help

If you have questions about trademarking your logo, you can post your question or concern on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top five 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. They work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

Trademarking your logo is an important step in setting up your business. Your logo, along with your business name, is at the heart of your brand identity. Registering your trademark will help you protect your brand. Your customers won't be fooled by inferior knockoffs or businesses using a similar design.