How Much Does It Cost to Trademark Something?
Reviewed by Carina Jenkins, J.D.
If you're a business owner, you don't want someone else using your company name or logos. Trademarking these distinctive features can protect your rights and help you build your reputation.
But, like everything, trademarking comes with a price tag. You may want to learn how much a trademark costs as part of your business planning.
Trademark is a legal term for a name, phrase or graphic that a business uses to distinguish its goods and services. You can register trademarks with the federal government. Another company can't sell the same kind of products under the same business name you have trademarked. Trademarks must be distinctive, which means you can't trademark a common name or generic description.
A registered federal trademark owner can sue in federal court for trademark infringement if another party wrongfully uses the trademark. You can also apply for trademarks under state law, but these provide limited protection.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the scope of protection for a trademark is limited to categories of businesses, also known as classes. Examples of trademark classes include:
- Medical supplies
- Meat, fish and poultry
- Legal and security services
Business owners must register their trademarks in classes that apply to their products or services. The trademark is protected under those classes, but other people may be able to use the trademark under different categories.
You must apply to register a trademark with USPTO. With minimal exceptions, the USPTO no longer accepts paper applications but uses the trademark electronic application system, TEAS. There are two kinds of TEAS applications:
- TEAS Plus with a fee of $250 per class
- TEAS Standard with a fee of $350 per class
The TEAS Plus application is cheaper and often has faster processing times, but there are more requirements when filing.
Applicants owe filing fees per class. Each application can only include a single trademark, so applicants must file separately to trademark a business name and a logo.
If you want to trademark a name and logo in three trademark classes, you would have the following TEAS Plus fees:
- Application for name ($250) x 3 classes = $750
- Application for logo ($250) x 3 classes = $750
- Total fees of $1,500
Although these fees can add up, they're necessary to obtain the complete protection of trademark laws.
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Trademark applicants inside the U.S. don't have to hire a lawyer. However, legal advice from a trademark attorney is almost always helpful.
Trademark laws can be complicated, and mistakes on your application can result in denial. A lawyer can also help you avoid mistakes like:
- Picking a trademark that's already in use
- Picking a phrase or mark that's too generic or common to be trademarked
- Incorrectly identifying products or services
A lawyer can also help you avoid future problems. An inadequate description of services or the wrong class selection could mean you won't win a trademark infringement lawsuit. Even worse, it could allow someone else to become the owner of your trademark in a particular area.
Applicants domiciled in other countries must hire a licensed U.S. trademark attorney to file an application with the USPTO.
The cost of hiring a trademark lawyer depends on the complexity of your trademark and how many applications you'll need. Attorneys may charge by the hour or offer a flat fee. Flat fees are more likely for straightforward applications. Attorney costs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. You'll still need to pay the USPTO filing fee in addition to paying your lawyer.
There are also future trademark costs, such as renewal fees, that you need to take into consideration.
Trademark Renewal Fees
To keep your trademark, you'll need to keep using it and file occasional paperwork with the USPTO. You'll need to file a Declaration of Use five years after getting your trademark. The fee for filing this document can range from $225 to $425 per class. A Declaration of Use and Application for Renewal can be filed every 10 years with a fee of $525 per class. A Declaration of Incontestability can be filed for $200 per class, offering additional protection for established trademarks.
Defending Your Trademark
You may need to hire a lawyer or pay court fees if someone uses your trademark without permission. Failing to defend a trademark can mean losing your rights to it. Additionally, if someone accuses you of using their trademark or claims your trademark conflicts with theirs, you may need an attorney to help you resolve the problem.
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