Welcome to AVVO. That was a nice practical answer. 2hrs for TEAS PLUS must include prep time in addition to online time. I find 30 minutes is the norm for the online process once the materials are ready such as dates of use, address, the image files and ID keywords to search. The app autofills some of the data if you are a repeat user, which really helps speed things.
I see far more value in the "tm" notice: Affixing it, properly, (1) normally defeats an alleged infringer’s “innocent infringer” defense, (2) can be used as evidence to counter an alleged infringer’s claim that it adopted the mark, or one confusingly similar, “in good faith” when infringement liability and damages are considered, (3) can be used as evidence to support a “reverse confusion” infringement claim against a larger, junior user, (4) can be used as evidence to oppose someone else’s concurrent use registration for the mark, (5) makes it easier to argue during registration that consumers would conclude that the mark was, in fact, being used as a mark and not just ornamentally or as some sort of product or packaging embellishment.
As for only conducting a trademark search via one of the big three search engines and of the federal Trademark Office I think that is very unwise. Search engines cannot search for design marks [which very often include words written figuratively] and no layman, and most trademark attorneys, are not sufficiently skilled to do TESS design code searches. As for word marks, a layman -- or even a decent trademark attorney -- will not normally think of all the applicable homonyms. Moreover, even we trademark lawyers cannot directly search all the state trademark registration databases. And a layman will not even think to search the trade name databases. In addition, the marks used by foreign companies who import their branded product into the U.S. will often not be found or, if they are, it will be difficult to determine if the product is sold in the U.S. -- only a search of trade journals, articles and industrial indexes can determine that. In short, my take is that if a business owner cannot afford the $600 professional trademark search and the 2 - 3 hours of attorney time to review the results then that business owner ought not to start the business.