Over the last few months, I have been taking a look at several larger companies that provide trademark services. I’ve looked at what customers have to say about their experiences with Trademarkia. I’ve also purchased and reviewed my own trademark search through LegalZoom. There are a lot of options that people now have when looking into protection for their trademarks. Another example is The Trademark Company. They claim to provide comprehensive and affordable services. But like the saying goes, customers are finding out that they got what they paid for.
Alleged Ethics Violations By The Trademark Company Owner
This blog post from IPethics & INsights tells us that Matthew Swyers, the owner of The Trademark Company, agreed that he will not practice trademark law for a period of at least five years. This agreement comes after years of investigation into his practice and goings on at The Trademark Company. The investigation led to the filing of a disciplinary complaint within the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. This complaint contained several allegations, including that:
- Mr. Swyers, through The Trademark Company, systematically allowed for non-attorneys to practice trademark law with little or no supervision;
- He allowed for thousands of trademark applications to be prepared and filed in his name by his non-lawyer employees without his review. This violated USPTO rules and his own website’s statement that trademark applicants would be represented by a specialized attorney; and
- Many of his client’s applications were jeopardized by the filing of fraudulent or digitally altered specimens showing use of the applied-for trademark. These alterations were made by non-lawyer employees that were working unsupervised.
While these are only allegations, Mr. Swyers’ agreement to stop practicing trademark law for five years may indicate that there is some truth to these allegations. Also, there was another important stipulation in his agreement not to practice. These allegations will be considered true for the purpose of his reinstatement petition if he applies for reinstatement to practice at the USPTO. That is a major concession.
What Can We Learn from The Trademark Company?
The first thing we can learn is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You can find do-it-yourself trademark services that tell you they can file your trademark application for $100-$200 (excluding filing fees). I’ve already documented the many problems with this. So how can The Trademark Company match prices with an automated service like that? Especially when their clients are all working with licensed trademark attorneys? It’s simple: they can’t.
And that is where the allegations and common sense seem to come together. If someone is only charging you $100 to file a trademark application, then it is not being prepared and filed by an actual attorney. Those rates are so low that they invite the sort of volume that one attorney cannot handle. And Mr. Swyer is the only attorney at The Trademark Company. According to World Trademark Review, which has a list each year of the top trademark filers, The Trademark Company filed the most U.S. trademark applications each year from 2012-2015. This is listed as an honor on the Trademark Company’s website. Now do you really think that one person prepared and filed all of those applications on his own?
Looking for High-Value vs. Low-Cost
My message to individuals and businesses wanting to register their trademarks is simple. If you look for the cheapest assistance, then the service you pay for will not provide you with much value. Employees at The Trademark Company receive some training, but they are not attorneys. And my guess is that you are not looking to hire a non-attorney to assist you with your important legal matters. Your trademark is the most valuable asset to your business. Make sure that an experienced attorney is giving it the attention that it deserves.
You want to have a personalized experience, where you are speaking directly with the attorney that will be working on your trademark search, application, and other trademark matters. Getting this personalized service means that you will be better-informed, more likely to avoid mistakes on your application, and have a better chance at successfully registering your trademark. When you fill out online forms, or speak with non-attorneys about your application, you are giving them instructions on how to complete your application. An attorney asks you the right questions to make sure that your application is accurate, correct, and will hold up if challenged.
Are You Interested Discussing Your Trademark Matters With An Actual Attorney?
If you would like personalized assistance with your trademark matters, and to avoid paying for services performed by a non-lawyer employee, intern, paralegal, or law student, please call me at (314) 479-3668, 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.