When opening a new business, a major source of stress is the startup cost involved. Getting things off the ground can seem like a never-ending stream of receipts and expenses. The natural tendency is to want to determine what you actually need, and what you can do without. You might also decide which things you can do yourself, to save money. Many business owners have asked me whether they really need a trademark attorney to file their U.S. trademark applications. It’s a very common and reasonable question.
I think that legal assistance with your trademark matters is worth the cost involved. However, there is no legal requirement that you hire an attorney to assist you with your U.S. trademark application (if you are located in the United States). The USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) will even provide you with some basic information to help you with your trademark application. Although you can choose to do it yourself, here are several reasons why I believe that it is worth it to retain a trademark attorney to assist with your application.
Should You Even File a Trademark Application?
Most businesses need a trademark attorney to advise them before they are ready to file a trademark application. A trademark attorney can tell you if your mark is even something that can be registered. Many trademarks are not eligible for registration. For example, a word that is considered generic cannot be registered. There are many rules for federal trademark registration. If you never speak with a trademark attorney, you may waste your money filing a trademark application for a mark that cannot be registered.
You also want an attorney to assist with a comprehensive trademark search. The search may turn up potential conflicts that can prevent you from successfully registering your trademark. The search may indicate that you will need additional legal research and arguments to get your trademark registered. If that is the case, you will almost certainly need an attorney to make these arguments for you.
If your trademark is not registerable, wouldn’t you want to know about that up front? By trying to save money, you might end up actually wasting money on an application when there was never any chance of success in the first place.
The Trademark Application Form
Speaking of wasted money, the trademark application form can be tricky to complete, and not all errors can be corrected. If you make a mistake that cannot be fixed, you will lose hundreds in non-refundable government filing fees.
If you cannot fix your trademark application, you may decide to file another one. However, you will lose your priority filing date from the original application. This means that if someone applies for a confusingly similar mark before you file the new application, you might not be able to obtain a trademark registration at all. Hiring a trademark attorney that has experience in filing U.S. trademark applications will help you prevent these mistakes and avoid the resulting additional costs.
The Trademark Registration Process
Filing your application is not the end of the trademark registration process. Instead, it is the beginning of a process that will likely take over a year. During that time several things can happen to your application. You need to know what the deadlines are and make sure to respond in a timely fashion.
Having a trademark attorney help you with your trademark application makes it more likely that you will be successful in the registration process. Even if you don’t think you need a trademark attorney to complete the application form, you may need one after the application is filed in order to complete the process.
I fully understand the need to save money and do-it-yourself when you are starting a new business. I had these same thoughts about cutting costs when I started my practice. However, when your business succeeds, its trademarks will become some of its most valuable assets. While it can be difficult to think long-term from the start of a new business, your trademarks are an area where you simply cannot afford to cut corners.
Do You Need Assistance With Filing Your Trademark Application?
If you are trying to decide whether you would like a trademark attorney to file your application, or if you have any questions, please feel free to call me at (480) 360-3499, email me at email@example.com, or complete the contact form found on this page to schedule your free initial consultation today. I look forward to speaking with you.