How Much is a Trademark? – Understanding the Relationship Between Cost, Risk, and Value

Are you asking yourself, “How much is a trademark?”  If you found this article because you are curious about the cost of obtaining a United States trademark registration, you have landed in the right place.  As a trademark attorney, I work with individuals just like you every day.  I know that cost can be a genuine concern, especially for people venturing into the trademark registration process for the first time.

However, it is important to recognize that cost should only be one part of your purchasing decision.  In addition to cost, you must also consider both risk and value in order to make a proper and informed assessment.  So let’s do a quick overview of these three concepts and then see how they relate to your upcoming trademark decision.

How Much is a Trademark in Terms of COST?

“Cost refers to the amount you pay to acquire something.  In this case, you are seeking to acquire a federal trademark registration.  Most people think of cost as being just a monetary amount, but it also encompasses other valuable resources such as your time and effort.  You need to take into account all forms of cost you might incur, not just those quoted in dollars and cents.

How Much is a Trademark in Terms of RISK?

“Risk” refers to the chance that something negative might happen, such as the loss of your money, time, and/or effort.  When applying to register a trademark, a variety of factors may increase your risk.  For example, an incomplete trademark search, a misunderstanding of the trademark laws, and mismanagement of the US trademark registration process are all elements that will increase the risk of your trademark application being rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), or experiencing other significant legal problems down the road.

How Much is a Trademark in Terms of VALUE?

“Value” refers to the benefit you receive in return for (1) the money, time, and effort you invest, and (2) the level of risk you accept.  Everyone seems to have their own idea of value, but I think it is safe to say that nearly all consumers are looking to receive good value when they buy a product or service.  Sure, some people automatically equate lower cost with higher value.  And maybe sometimes it works out that way.  However, I can assure you that this is almost never the case when it comes to selecting a method for obtaining trademark protection, particularly if the risk level is very high.

How Much is a Trademark?

When it comes to federal trademark registration, you essentially have three options.  Let’s compare each of these three options with a focus on the concepts of cost, risk, and value:

Option #1 – How Much is a Trademark if You Do It Yourself?

Conducting your own federal trademark search and completing the USPTO trademark application form yourself may result in the lowest monetary cost because it’s possible that the USPTO filing fees will be the only money you spend.  However, the cost of your time and effort is extremely high because you will be doing all of the legal research, trademark search analysis, document preparation, and follow-up on your own.

What about risk?  Well, the risk of failure is extremely high because trademark clearance and registration is more complex and nuanced than it might initially seem.  For instance, if your trademark search is insufficient, you may adopt and apply to register a mark that violates the trademark rights of someone else, or perhaps is not legally eligible for registration under any circumstances.  Likewise, if your US trademark application contains inaccuracies, mistakes, or is missing required information, the USPTO will delay or outright reject your application (without issuing you a refund).  Trust me, it would be easy for me to write a blog post twice as long as this one that discusses the negative outcomes that could result from not fully understanding US trademark law and the trademark registration procedures.

Bottom line: A do-it-yourself approach to trademark registration may have the lowest potential monetary cost, but these savings are quickly negated by the substantial expenditure of time and effort you will make trying to comply with all of the rules and do everything correctly.  Furthermore, most people’s lack of familiarity and experience with US trademark registration makes the risk of failure and future problems exceedingly high.  So, is a do-it-yourself approach good value?  Probably not.

Option #2 – How Much is a Trademark if You Use an Online Trademark Service?

If you elect to use an online service – like Trademarkia or LegalZoom – to assist with the trademark registration process, you will be charged a service fee in addition to the USPTO filing fees.  Now, just what do you get in return for paying this service fee?  Very little.  In fact, there isn’t much difference between using an impersonal, web-based service to file your trademark application, and just filing the application on your own.  This is because the questionnaires provided by LegalZoom and Trademarkia basically mimic the official USPTO trademark application form that is already freely available to you.  The folks at LegalZoom and Trademarkia are just transferring your answers from their forms onto the USPTO form.  You are essentially paying for a transcription service, not a trademark service.

Plus, despite what you may have been led to believe, Trademarkia and LegalZoom do not offer any legal advice or guidance.  They are prohibited from doing so since they are not attorneys or law firms.  They can’t conduct a trademark search and give you an opinion as to whether your mark is available for your exclusive use and registration.  They can’t prepare and submit your trademark application without you first taking the time to complete their online questionnaires.  As you can see, they are not saving you one second of time or one ounce of effort as compared to embarking down the trademark registration path on your own.  Moreover, you are taking on the exact same level of risk…and you are paying for the “privilege” of doing so.

Bottom line: From a purely monetary perspective, an online trademark service costs more than doing it yourself.  That additional monetary expenditure would certainly be worthwhile if it either (1) decreased your other costs (time and effort) or (2) reduced your risk.  Sadly, it does neither.  As such, your monetary cost is higher but you gain no extra benefit.  So, is an online trademark service a good value?  Not in my opinion.

Option #3 – How Much is a Trademark if You Work with a Trademark Attorney?

If you hire a trademark registration attorney to help secure federal protection for your trademark, the monetary cost will likely be a few hundred dollars more than an online trademark service.  But, your investment in terms of time and effort will be minimal because your attorney will handle everything for you from start to finish in a prompt and efficient manner.

Also, unlike Option #1 and Option #2, a trademark attorney will consult with you, ask you the right questions, listen to your specific goals and needs, provide you with valuable advice, and comply with all USPTO requirements and deadlines.  All of these things greatly reduce the risk of your trademark being refused registration by the USPTO or opposed by a third-party, not to mention waking up one morning to find a cease and desist notice in your mailbox.

Bottom line: If you are serious about securing all of the protections and benefits that a federal trademark registration has to offer, working with a trademark attorney is by far your best option.  A skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced trademark attorney will help you avoid the mistakes that so many others will undoubtedly make, thus minimizing your risk of encountering trademark registration problems and having to deal with trademark infringement issues in the future.  So, is developing a relationship with a trademark attorney who is ready and willing to provide you with advice and guidance good value?  I think the facts speak for themselves.

How Much is a Trademark if I Work with Morris Turek?

I’m US trademark attorney Morris Turek.  I’ve seen what can happen when good people make poor trademark decisions that are usually based on monetary considerations alone.  That is why I would like to help you begin the trademark registration process on the right foot.  Of course, I can also provide assistance in the event you happen to be in the middle of a frustrating trademark issue or dispute.

Unlike Trademarkia and LegalZoom, I work hard to provide you with maximum value by minimizing your costs and risk.  For a complementary, no-obligation consultation, please contact me at (314) 749-4059, via email at morris@yourtrademarkattorney.com, or simply use the quick contact form found on every page of my website.  I look forward to working with you.

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