Trademark Registration: Have a Real Lawyer Do It
by Sue Basko
If you want to register trademark on the name of your company or product or service, have a real lawyer do it. DO NOT use one of those online fake "legal service" websites. Here's why:
Trademark registration is a year-long process. Filling out the application merely begins the process. If you use one of those non-lawyer "services," who is going to do the rest of the work for you?
The trademark application is crucial and must be filled out correctly for it to work. The applications I have seen through the online services have been done incorrectly. That means the trademark registrations will fail or will cost a great deal in time and money to fix up.
The main service I have seen is called LegalZoom. This is a website that auto-generates a trademark application. This is not a lawyer. It is highly unlikely your application will be done correctly this way, and you will still have a year of work left to do. This service has slipped through because a California law allows "document preparers." Since this is on the internet, it is operating in any state -- and I have strong doubts that this is legal in all those states. Even in California, I think such sites perform a grave disservice for the users.
In a trademark application, you do not need an auto-generated application, you need a lawyer who listens and understands what you are trying to do, understand trademark law, and is there for you for the entire process. The process involves numerous contacts with the trademark examiner, and often writing replies to the examiner's objections, filing additional papers and information and specimens, making informed decisions and changes, and possibly defending the trademark application against challenges.
If your trademark application is done incorrectly, you lose the application fee as well as whatever fee you paid. With an online service, that means losing over $400. Yes, the cost is "only $400," but that is $400 you are most likely throwing away for nothing. Save your money up and have it done right.
Having a real knowledgeable lawyer do your trademark application is more expensive, but of course it should be. The lawyer will be doing the full job, the full year or more of work that is actually involved.
I charge starting at about $1500 and up for a trademark registration. What does this include? First, a good evaluation to see if it is likely the trademark can be successfully registered. This is the key to the whole process. If the trademark registration is not likely to succeed, I can help choose other names that are more likely to work. Second, I work with you to gather the needed information and materials for the application. Third, I file the application. Then we wait a few months for the file to be assigned to a trademark examiner. The examiner will have questions, objections, and all these must be addressed in writing. Once all is clear, the trademark goes to publication. Then, the trademark may be challenged by others, and each challenge must be addressed.
Registering a trademark is very complex legal work and many applications made by lawyers fail. Once you get a registered trademark, it is like gold. Many businesses have been built upon trademark. Many businesses also use their registered trademarks as loan collateral.
If you are starting an online business or website business, a rock band, a design business, a clothing line, a record label, or other such creative business, I strongly recommend that you work on getting one or more registered trademarks that signify your business.