Clients often ask me how much does a trademark cost?
My answer is typically “less than you probably think.”
It’s almost certainly less than the ensuing legal fees associated with a cease and desist letter. Let’s face it; starting a new business venture is an investment. Before we can make money we need to invest in at least the basics.
In this article, I’m going to discuss federal trademarks rather than state trademarks. Only in limited circumstances would I encourage a state trademark filing. It’s generally not worth the money as there’s little upside.
The first order of business for any money-making endeavor should be legal entity formation followed almost immediately by trademark research, clearance, and application.
Blog Article: How to do a Trademark Search: 3 Easy Steps
Should I Register a Trademark?
My experience tells me that the lack of either a legal entity (LLC or Corporation) or a trademark registration creates more headaches than almost any other legal issues for young companies.
Another way to frame the question of trademark cost is to think about your trademark registration as creating value for your business. It’s a net positive. Beyond inventory and other assets, the single largest piece of a company’s saleable value is the goodwill engendered by its customers.
That goodwill is protected by your registered trademark.
Today’s digital marketplaces, more than ever before, require trademark registration.
Want to sell on Amazon and have access to those coveted A+ pages? You’ll need a trademark registration. Want exclusive branding rights on Etsy or Facebook Marketplace? Again, you’ll need a trademark registration.
Want more proof? Here’s total trademark applications filed each year since 1980.
Trademark applications continue to rise because trademarks have become strategic assets for companies.
When a company successfully files a trademark, its good or service automatically stands out in a sea of competitors. If your company does not register for a trademark (despite its low cost) someone else will —
— And they stand to benefit from the brand YOU created.
Blog Article: Top 3 Advantages of Trademarks
Book a free consultation today to see how a trademark can bring value and growth to your brand!
Categories of Trademark Costs
We need to divide trademark fees into two categories; fees that you pay to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the fees you’ll likely pay your attorney.
Spoiler alert… I strongly encourage you to seek legal counsel when it comes to choosing and registering trademarks. I’ve seen some success with the DIY approach but I’ve seen far more costly disasters.
Both the government and legal fees should be straightforward and available for you to understand. If your attorney won’t give you a straight answer as to how much you can expect to pay them for their trademark services my advice is to run, not walk, the other way.
*Side Note: Avoid those “legal-ish” websites you see on TV that claim to file your trademark for a few hundred bucks. You’re paying for the application to be filled out, not legal advice. Don’t walk or run away, sprint!
The trademark practitioners I respect the most do this work day in and day out. They don’t dabble in business law; they don’t practice estate law. They’re intellectual property attorneys, period. They know trademark law front to back and they can tell you exactly how much your matter will cost.
At Bold IP we charge flat fees for all trademark registration work. No surprise invoices. That’s how it should be. More on those legal prices in a bit but first I want to discuss the government’s fees.
A typical trademark application will cost $225 to file with the USPTO. It’s a heck of a bargain considering all the work the USPTO goes through to process your application. The USPTO is a model government agency when it comes to efficiency. The $225 option is called a TEAS Plus application. It’s different than the $275 TEAS Standard application in one major way.
A TEAS Plus application only allows for goods and services to be picked off a prescribed menu. There’s little room for novelty but the choices are numerous.
A TEAS Standard application is used to describe a unique good or service that doesn’t fit cleanly into the preexisting catalog of descriptions. So what are we getting for our $225?
The $225 application will get your application filed in one International Class. International Classes are broken down into 45 categories covering all manner of goods and services, from toilet paper to medical services and everything in between.
Some clients fit neatly into just one International Class but most fall into two or more. Take the small business that manufactures light bulbs. They fit nicely into International Class 11 (environmental control apparatus) but don’t they also sell online?
One of the most popular classes for filing is International Class 35 for business services. This could cover anything from consulting to online or physical retail store sales. When possible I always look to get my clients thinking about their business not just as a product business but also as a service provider.
This brings us back to our light bulb manufacturer.
They sell wholesale on their website and direct to consumers on Amazon. They certainly qualify for International Class 35. Because we are filing in a second class the USPTO will charge an additional $225. You can see how these costs can add up!
That’s where a trademark attorney can help!
A good trademark attorney will want to get to know you and your business. They’ll want to fully understand your business goals so they can effectively guide you through the entire trademark process.
It sounds simple enough, but one of my big jobs working with clients is to accurately understand what they actually need to protect and how I can do so in the broadest possible terms. If I have a solid relationship with my client I can advise them on where to prioritize their resources.
Many clients like to sell apparel as a tangential offering to their primary product.
Is applying for a trademark to protect their hats and t-shirts cost-effective? It depends on their sales but more than likely it’s not worth the effort.
Businesses should focus their trademark efforts on their core competencies and where they make their revenue.
There are many other fees the USPTO charges depending on the required service.
Below is a recent USPTO fee schedule:
Before we begin covering the attorney cost for a trademark, I want to share some helpful information.
One of the more popular ways to apply for a trademark is with an “intent-to-use” application. This type of application is used for the client who is planning on going to market with a product or service in the future but wants to secure their application while they invest in marketing and production. This is cheap insurance.
The government application fee is the same ($225 or $275) but the government will charge you an extra $100 fee payable when you prove you’re using the trademark as applied. Applicants can extend these applications up to 36 months with extension fees of $125 payable in six-month increments.
Most of my clients who’ve been through the trademark process with me previously recognize the value of securing their name with the USPTO before they launch. The advantage is no third party can scoop their name between when you choose the name and start advertising.
Rebranding is costly, especially if you’re sitting on thousands of labeled units. The smart move is to start the trademark process at least six months before you want to start selling.
Many clients don’t have that option and advice of counsel will become even more important as a result.
Book a free consultation today to discuss the most cost effective strategy for you!
I’ve previously mentioned I am a big fan of flat fee legal services. It makes sense. I don’t know about you but I hate calling my business attorney for a ten-minute phone call because I know I’m going to get a fat bill.
I don’t mind hearing about his golf game but I don’t want to pay for it. With flat fees, it’s all baked into a cake!
You get access to your attorney whenever you need him/her and you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. Trademark registration is a process. There’s no mystery to it for experienced attorneys.
Beware the attorney who charges by the hour.
Reasonably, clients should expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000 for a comprehensive trademark service. If you’re paying less than that and getting an experienced attorney you’re getting a heck of a bargain.
If you’re paying more than that there better be a nice lunch included.
Of course, there are additional fees that you may choose to add to your trademark package. Maybe you want to add an extra International Class or perhaps also file a design mark to protect your logo?
I’ve seen those types of à la carte services cost anywhere from $495 to $1,000. There likely will be a fee for filing a statement of use or extension for that intent-to-use application I mentioned earlier.
Again, a clever attorney with your interests at heart will be able to best allocate your resources to protect your brand and wallet.
So what are you waiting for? Book a free consultation today!
So what does it really cost to file a trademark including government and legal fees?
My experience says a client can expect to pay anywhere from $2,225 – $3,750 depending on whether they are filing in one international class or a few.
Cheap? No. Worth it? Absolutely.
A company with a trademark becomes associated with perceived value to its customers, and as a result, increases its margins.
If you have any questions about the trademark process I’d be happy to help. Trademark law is my sole practice. I help my clients register and protect their brands. Along the way, I aspire to create lasting relationships.
Book a free consultation today and see how a trademark can bring value to your brand!