I have frequently said that business owners should avoid trademark services such as LegalZoom and Trademarkia like the plague. The “About” section of this website even tells you that I think you are better off on your own than hiring one of these DIY trademark services. And I do believe that. However, you really should not be considering either of these options when it comes to your trademark matters. Your trademarks are too valuable to your business. So having anyone who is less than qualified (including you) filing your trademark application should be unacceptable. Here are the Top 3 problems with the DIY trademark approach:
1. The DIY Trademark Search Is Not Sufficient
Just last week I did a post about the knockout trademark search. This is a preliminary trademark search that you can conduct yourself. The purpose is to try and figure out if your trademark may infringe upon an existing trademark. It can also help you to determine whether you would be able to successfully register your trademark with the USPTO. However, it is not a comprehensive trademark search. For that, you need to work with an experienced trademark attorney.
So what is the real risk here? Time and money. Two of the most precious resources to a new business. If you rely on a DIY trademark search that you performed on your own, you can easily miss confusingly similar trademarks that are already registered. That means that (a) your application will be rejected and you forfeit the hundreds of dollars you spent in filing fees; and (b) you lose the four months it typically takes the Trademark Office to review your application for such conflicts. So if you want to get a trademark registration, you now have to start over, and pay hundreds more for your next application, then wait several months to see if it gets approved.
Hiring a trademark attorney to perform your search up front makes more sense. They can let you know if your application is likely to succeed. That way, you don’t spend money on trademark applications that are never going to register. And you don’t waste time waiting for the Trademark Office to issue a refusal based on a conflict that would have been uncovered by a comprehensive search.
2. Mistakes On Your Trademark Application Can Be Costly
Most people who take the DIY trademark approach to applications are probably given false confidence from the USPTO website. It is designed to be extra user-friendly. It has a lot of good information, and instructions for people that want to do their own trademark work. And the online trademark application form looks easy, too. But it is deceptively simple, and easy to make costly mistakes.
When you complete the online application, it will tell you when your application is incomplete. But that’s not the issue. What DIY trademark applicants don’t realize is that your application may be void as filed if you give incorrect information. That means if you get a registration, it is not legitimate. It won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on. And the Trademark Office often cannot tell when bad information has been given. This is the most dangerous part of filing yourself: you won’t know your registration is worthless until you need it most.
When someone challenges your registration (such as in a cancellation proceeding), they can look for holes in your application. More precisely, their attorney will be inspecting it for any problems. And if there was anything wrong with it, you can be sure that they will find those problems and use them to cancel your registration. New business owners frequently file their own application, get the trademark registration, and spend years developing their brand, just to have their registration cancelled because there was an error on the initial application. Don’t let it happen to you.
3. Getting Through the Application Process
DIY trademark application filers are being short-sighted. Not just in the sense that they are risking their business’ valuable trademark assets to save a little money. But also in the sense that they don’t think about the complicated trademark registration process that only begins with the application filing.
How do you respond to an office action? What do you need for a Statement of Use? When should you even file the Statement of Use? Someone that has never filed a trademark application most likely does not know the answers. The registration process often consists of many steps and many deadlines. If your idea is to file the application and get your registration in the mail several months later, then that is wishful thinking.
If you don’t respond to issues that come up on time, your application goes abandoned. Incorrectly addressing issues that come up can also mean that your application goes abandoned. Trying to save money by not hiring an attorney might mean that you end up wasting money on abandoned applications. Just filing your application does not mean that you will get a registration. Filers of DIY trademark applications miss this fact.
Have You Decided That Filing Your Own Trademark Application Isn’t Worth the Risk?
I know that my clients, as new businesses, have to make tough decisions when it comes to their finances. That is why I provide affordable flat-fee rates for my services. And nothing is more affordable than free, which is the cost for an initial consultation to discuss your trademark matters. If you would like to discuss these matters with me, please call me at (480) 360-3499, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete the contact form found on this page to schedule your free initial consultation today. I look forward to speaking with you.