TL;DR Version: A common law trademark is FREE. Registering with a state is typically around $100. Federal registration for a single class will be anywhere between $225 and $1,500+, depending on what you want.
Before I get into this, the amounts I am identifying in this post are based on what I’ve seen and experienced. They could change or your could find providers who are either more or less expensive. The purpose of this post is to give you a ballpark idea of the costs you should expect.
There are three types of trademarks you can get:
1. Common law ($0). This is an unregistered trademark. You get it by just using your mark in commerce. You can let people know you are claiming a mark by using the (TM) symbol. For example, if I am using the trademark Dog Breath—a new line of mints for people who have terrible breath, I would notify people I’m claiming a common law trademark right to Dog Breath by writing it this way: Dog BreathTM breath mints.
A common law trademark is limited to the geographic location where you use it and is the most challenging type of trademark to enforce, but it can be enforced. It is FREE to obtain a common law trademark.
2. State Registration ($100-200). You can protect a mark in a state. This typically requires filing a trademark application on a form provided by your state with the Secretary of State. Some states will have the registration run at the county or city level. Filing fees are around $100-$200, from what I’ve seen.
3. Federal Registration ($225-400). Federal registration provides you a right to exclusive use of your trademark in the U.S. (although it can be challenged) and provides you with additional protections and remedies in the event of an infringement. The filing fee is between $225 and $400, depending on the method of filing, for each class in which you are registering. It can take between 4-6 months to get the results of your application.
I’ve addressed the basics of trademark searching before (see: 2 Big Trademark Issues to Consider). The point of searching is to make a determination as to whether there appears to be a likelihood of confusion between your mark and any other mark.
When it comes to doing this search, there are generally three approaches:
1. Preliminary Search ($0-$200). This involves researching your mark with the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This type of search is sometimes referred to as a knockout search. The purpose is to “knock out” marks that are clearly problematic based on trademarks currently in TESS.
Doing a preliminary search is something you can do yourself if you are willing to spend the time to learn how to do it. Doing it yourself will obviously be free. All you really are going to do is type in the trademark you want to use and see what comes up. I did this with “Dog Breath” and here’s what came up:
Based on these finding, I can decide if I should “knock out” the idea of using “Dog Breath” as a trademark for my breath mints. However, I may also want to search for similar words and spellings of my intended trademark. It’s part art and part science.
If you don’t want to do it yourself, there are a number of companies that do a preliminary search for you. I can point you in a direction as well, just text me if you want to know some specifics: 702-291-1799.
2. Comprehensive Search ($300-$1,200). A comprehensive search looks at the federal register, state registries, and common law sources. The price is going to vary based on depth of the review, how fast you need it, and other details, such as the number and type of classes to which you want the trademark to apply. The fee I estimated is based on one class.
Companies who do comprehensive searches have developed or utilized the technology to scrub the federal and state databases and a variety of common law resources, so they can get you result fairly quickly and pain free. Depending on who you use, they may also provide specific details on any marks that are potentially conflicting.
Again, if you want to know any specific companies that I know, shoot over a text: 702-291-1799.
One thing you are going to want to know when looking at the attorney’s fee is what’s included. For example, some attorneys (like me) include the comprehensive search as part of the fee they quote. Most do not include the filing fees in the quote. Anyway, fees will typically range between $500 and $1,200. But it all depends on how complex your trademark is, how many classes you want to cover, the type of market, what services they include, etc. I would not be surprised if an attorney quote more based on a totality of the circumstances.
The Bottom Line
Registering a federal trademark can be expensive. If you don’t want to pay for a search or have an attorney help you, it may not seem that bad spending the $225-400 filing fee. But registering a trademark is actually an adversarial process. The application will be reviewed by a trademark attorney who may reject it. Others may be watching and may contest your application. If you jump into the process without doing your homework, it may be a big waste of time and money.
If you want to get a federal trademark, you can use the information I have provided to get a ballpark idea on how much it’s actually going to cost. Remember, the amounts above are basically for a single class. Adding more classes will increase the costs because it takes more work.
If you have questions about trademarks or would like a flat quote on the total cost (including filing fees, search fees, and attorney’s fees), let’s get in touch. Shoot me a text (702-291-1799) or schedule a meeting.
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