What is Trademark Engine?
Recently, many people have been asking me the following question: “Is Trademark Engine legit when it comes to filing a trademark application?” Trademark Engine is a trademark registration service that can be best summed up by its very own language located on the bottom of its website:
Trademark Engine provides information and software only. Trademark Engine is not a “lawyer referral service” and does not provide legal advice or participate in any legal representation.
Furthermore, Trademark Engine sets forth the following disclaimer on its website:
Trademark Engine is not a law firm and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. Likewise, our customer service representatives are here to assist you, but they may not provide any legal advice to you. General information about the law is not the same as advice about the application of the law in a particular factual or legal situation. Individual facts and circumstances as well as legal principles including but not limited to the ones referenced on this website can affect the outcome of any given situation. Trademark Engine cannot and does not guarantee that an application will be approved by the USPTO, that a mark will be protected from infringement under common US trademark law, or that any ensuing litigation or dispute will lead to a favorable outcome. If you want or have an interest in obtaining legal advice with respect to a specific situation or set of circumstances, you should consult with the lawyer of your choice.
Now that you know Trademark Engine isn’t a law firm and can’t provide you with any valuable legal advice, guidance, or recommendations, never mind address the many important questions and concerns you likely have regarding trademarks and trademark registration, you may be wondering what Trademark Engine does have to offer.
Trademark Engine Trademark Registration Packages
Well, the short answer is that Trademark Engine currently offers three trademark registration packages. Let’s delve deeper into them so we can answer the question posed at the beginning of this article: is Trademark Engine legit?
Trademark Engine “Basic Package”
The “Basic Package” is the cheapest trademark registration package offered by Trademark Engine. It costs $99 and consists of (1) a direct-hit search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database, (2) preparation and filing of your trademark application, and (3) electronic delivery of your trademark application. Although this package certainly sounds like great value at first, let me explain why it’s nothing more than $99 down the drain.
The Direct-Hit Trademark Search
First, you can perform a direct-hit trademark search for free using the “Basic Word Mark Search” option provided by the USPTO. There’s absolutely no reason to pay Trademark Engine one penny to do this very basic “knockout” search, especially since Trademark Engine isn’t analyzing the results of its direct-hit search or giving you an opinion as to whether your trademark is even eligible for registration. Also, you should understand that just because a direct-hit search doesn’t reveal any obvious conflicts doesn’t mean your trademark can be registered. A direct-hit search isn’t a comprehensive federal trademark search because it won’t reveal “confusingly similar” marks that could prevent the successful registration of your trademark. In addition, there are many categories of trademarks that are legally ineligible for registration under any circumstances. Of course, Trademark Engine can’t tell you whether your trademark falls into one of those categories because Trademark Engine is merely software, not a trademark attorney.
Preparation and Filing of the Trademark Application
Second, despite what it says on its website, Trademark Engine is not preparing your trademark application. In fact, you’re preparing your own trademark application by filling out Trademark Engine’s online questionnaire (which simply mimics the official USPTO trademark application form) and submitting the completed questionnaire to Trademark Engine. You’re paying Trademark Engine $99 to simply copy and paste your answers from the questionnaire onto the USPTO application form. That’s all Trademark Engine is doing. Nothing more. So, if you’ve made the decision not to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced trademark attorney, my suggestion would be to bypass Trademark Engine, save $99, and go straight to the USPTO website where the trademark application form you need to complete is freely available.
Electronic Delivery of the Trademark Application
Finally, electronic delivery of your trademark application is nothing extraordinary. The moment a trademark application is electronically filed, the USPTO provides a PDF copy of the trademark application for your records. All you’re doing is hiring Trademark Engine to simply forward you that PDF copy (which, by the way, is freely available for download from the USPTO website). To be clear, if you electronically file your own trademark application, you’ll receive the same PDF copy within seconds and you’ll have saved yourself $99.
Trademark Engine “Standard Package”
The “Standard Package” is the second cheapest trademark registration package offered by Trademark Engine. It costs $149 and consists of everything in the Basic Package plus (1) a customizable cease and desist letter, (2) a template trademark transfer and assignment form, and (3) six months of trademark monitoring. I assure you that none of these three items are worth the extra $50.
What if My Trademark Application is Rejected?
What if the USPTO rejects your trademark application and refuses registration of your trademark? Should that happen, all three of these items would be completely worthless to you. You’ll have no need for them and you’ll have paid $50 for no additional benefit whatsoever. Now you’ve lost $149 rather than just the $99 you would’ve lost had you chosen the Basic Package.
But even if the USPTO grants registration of your trademark, are these three items worth the extra $50? Absolutely not.
The Customizable Cease and Desist Letter
As a trademark attorney who has sent dozens (if not hundreds) of cease and desist letters on behalf of my clients, I can tell you that there’s no such thing as a “standard” cease and desist notice. Every situation is unique and requires an individualized approach. But, even if that wasn’t the case, what’s more important than the letter itself is knowing whether it’s in your best interest to even send a cease and desist letter and what the possible consequences of sending such a letter might be. Unlike Trademark Engine, an experienced trademark attorney can explore those issues with you and prepare an appropriate cease and desist notice if necessary.
The Trademark Assignment Form
Similarly, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all trademark assignment. A trademark assignment is an important legal document that must be carefully tailored to meet the needs and objectives of the parties entering into the assignment. It makes me very nervous to think that people are using the Trademark Engine assignment form to transfer ownership of one of their most valuable assets without obtaining any legal counsel. And the worst part is that most people won’t even know there was a problem with the assignment until there’s a challenge to the use or registration of their trademark. And by that time, it’s probably too late to remedy the situation. Therefore, I urge you not to use or pay for this potentially dangerous document being peddled by Trademark Engine.
Six Months of Trademark Monitoring
Finally, I don’t believe anyone should invest in trademark monitoring unless they have the resources to pursue infringements that may be uncovered by the monitoring service. In the worst case scenario, you could spend over $100,000 and 2-3 years pursuing a trademark infringement lawsuit all the way through trial. As far as trademark opposition and trademark cancellation proceedings are concerned, you could easily spend tens of thousands of dollars over the course of two years if the matter isn’t settled or resolved before trial. The bottom line is that the trademark monitoring service offered by Trademark Engine will do you no good unless you can actually afford to take legal action against potential infringers. Of course, Trademark Engine forgets to tell you that part.
Trademark Engine “Deluxe Package”
The “Deluxe Package” is the most expensive trademark registration package offered by Trademark Engine. It costs $199 and consists of everything in the Basic Package and Standard Package plus (1) one year of trademark monitoring, and (2) expedited filing of your trademark application within 24 business hours.
The only thing “deluxe” about this package is the price. Again, the one year of trademark monitoring is completely unnecessary for most small and start-up businesses that simply don’t have the vast resources necessary to effectively pursue potential infringements.
Expedited Filing of Trademark Application
As far as the expedited filing of the trademark application is concerned, there’s nothing “expedited” about it. Trademark Engine claims it will file your application within 24 business hours. That’s three days! Many trademark attorneys (including myself) are frequently able to prepare and file a trademark application within two days or less once they have all the information they need. Let’s face it, Trademark Engine should be able to file your trademark application in 20 minutes since you’ve already done all the work and Trademark Engine just needs to transfer your answers from the questionnaire onto the USPTO trademark application form. So, please don’t be under the delusion that Trademark Engine is providing an extraordinarily fast trademark filing service. It’s not.
Is Trademark Engine Legit for My Trademark Application? I’ll Let You Decide.
So, is Trademark Engine legit? I’m experienced US trademark attorney Morris Turek. If you have questions about why the Trademark Engine trademark registration packages probably won’t serve you very well, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (314) 749-4059. Or, if you prefer, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message through my contact form (below). I look forward to hearing from you soon.