Difference between cheap and high end trademark services?
10 attorney answers
The difference is usually a comprehensive nationwide common law trademark search for confusingly similar names and an opinion letter backed by an attorney that you will/will not have any problems down the road from unregistered trademarks with senior rights.
It happens almost everyday on this forum where someone filed a trademark themselves only to find that someone else who has not registered has been using the same name for way longer and therefore has superior rights in the name. Bummer. Spend the money, get piece of mind. Your choice.
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This is a great question and there have been some great answers provided here already, however I want to point out that it is important to compare apples to apples when you are seeking guidance/ assistance with your trademark.
The process has multiple steps and so when you are finding services that are less expensive, often they are leaving out or skipping over some crucial steps that will be completed by other service providers.
For instance a nominal fee is not going to include an opinion letter prior to getting started and it definitely does not include the assistance with an office action.
Whereas counsel charging hourly will often take care of each step along the way.
My recommendation is to find counsel who will provide a complete service at a FLAT FEE from opinion letter through application to office action and publication to the Gazette and any other support or correspondence needed during the approximate year it takes to finalize and secure the trademark.
I did not look at the other answers here, but I bet you received many good ones. This is not like buying a toaster in that you will not receive the same model no matter where you buy it from. All these "filing" services you see are essentially peeing on your leg and telling you that it's raining. They aim to sell fast, easy and cheap filing services knowing that is what the market wants to hear, but if there is any problem or frankly even a question that comes up, and in this space it happens all the time, it can easily become a big deal and you will quickly realize why it was a mistake not to rely on a real professional to deal with the mark. Being in this business we field all the issues when things go badly, so I see first hand how many of these zip-legal services drop the ball. I had one client that relied on a search from a very popular quickie non-lawyer website that we all know, and not understanding the results, because no one there was actually able to give him real legal advice, he engraved 150K worth of merchandise only to receive a cease & desist letter from a lawyer representing a big company with an almost identical mark. He had to sell everything abroad for pennies on the dollar.
That said, your trademark will be one of if not the most important and valuable business assets you will have and you will ultimately spend more money in support if it than you will anywhere else (advertising, marketing, PR, branding, packaging, etc.). So you owe it to your business and yourself to make sure you handle this properly upfront and the first order of business always starts with a proper and comprehensive clearance.
Whenever you endeavor into investing in a trademark it is very important that you conduct the proper clearance due diligence upfront and before you start spending any money in support of it or submit an application to the USPTO. In the US, this means searching under both federal (USPTO) as well as common law because trademark rights stem from use in this country NOT registration. This means that acquiring a federal registration does not necessarily mean that you are not infringing on another's intellectual property. See the link below for a brief article from Fox Business News on the importance of the due diligence process and our overview guide.
I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
Lots of good answers but I will add another one. I have had more people than I care to count come to me after having received cease and desist letters, only to tell me that they went through one of these great services that promise in TV ads to incorporate you and protect your trademark. Problem is they didn't do a search and they filed a trademark application that had zero chance of being approved because there was already someone out there with an identical name. A real trademark lawyer will not file a trademark application that he/she thinks is going to get a final refusal. what's the point? someone just trying to make a quick buck could care less.
The other answers are correct. I would steer away from a trademark offer that sounds too good to be true.
To get the most protection for your dollar, find an attorney who charges separately for her services, and just passes the cost of the comprehensive search and the filing fees to you with no markup. $1200 is a fair price, but some attorneys will offer easier terms, such as a monthly flat fee for this and related business needs.
Good Luck with your decision, and let me know if you want to talk specifics regarding your mark.
Reminds me of the "400 dollar divorce" place across the street from the law office that advertised "We fix 400 dollar divorces". There's a difference between someone handing you forms that you can get from searching the Internet and someone who is allowed to practice law (advise you on how to fill them out so it is not worthless or worse).
This should not be considered legal advice and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute a contract for legal services between any parties. Answers are given to questions for which there may be additional facts not mentioned which might change the legal issues or consequences.
You have to understand that such reviews may be useless to you for several reasons, but I'll give you one very important example. Let's say you use one the low end services, or simply file your trademark registration application yourself. Let's further assume the process goes smoothly and in 7 to 15 months or so you end with your mark federally registered. Great right. And you yourself write up a great review on the low end service you may have used.
Now lets assume may be a week goes by, or a month, or 6 months, and then boom - you're hit with either a trademark infringement lawsuit or a cancellation proceeding. You are of course now totally confused, you're thinking but I have a federally registered trademark, how can I be sued for trademark infringement or be facing a proceeding to cancel my federal registration?
The reason has to do with how trademark rights in the U.S. arise in the first place, which is by use and not registration. So unless you've conducted a comprehensive clearance search for the mark you're interested in, you are operating in the dark and may not be aware of both common law trademark holders and federally registered trademark holders who may have superior rights in confusingly similar marks. And because trademark law encourages self-policing of marks, these other mark holder are encouraged to come after you, or face abandonment attacks on their marks.
In sum, if you are not aware of how trademarks really work, just obtaining a federal registration may leave you with a very false sense of security. And as noted, the registration process is fraught with pitfalls, that we've assumed would not be an issue in this hypothetical, but in reality most registration applications face at least one office action that must be dealt with.
That's a great question. Many people wonder about hiring a trademark expert when it comes to preparing a trademark application, and the old adage "you get what you pay for" truly does apply in this case. While the trademark application may look like a simple form, there are several traps that can be avoided by engaging an expert to assist you from the beginning of the process. This includes their making sure that the proposed description of goods and services is properly crafted, confirming the appropriate application filing basis, obtaining a suitable specimen, and more. The idea is to craft the application to avoid a refusal by the US Trademark Office. It is my understanding that the fill-in-the-form application services offered are limited in the type of support provided, and unless you are dealing with an attorney, they are not permitted to render legal advice. Consider that your brand may be the most valuable asset your business will have, do you want to leave it in the hands of a non-expert?
You don't have to hire an expensive lawyer, just a good one.
Attorneys tend to charge more. This is because on-line trademark services tend to take whatever information you supply and file it directly without question. You could do that yourself and save the $99 fee. A trademark attorney will ask you questions that might change how the mark is registered. For example, if you have a combined word/design mark, a trademark attorney would analyze your goals and advise you on whether to file a single combined registration or two separate registrations. A trademark attorney would also advise you if your mark is weak (for example, as a result descriptiveness). There are many issues that make a good mark and that result in a strong registration. A trademark attorney will analyze those issues for you.
The response by Bryan Bockhop is given for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. It does not form an attorney-client relationship with any reader and it may not be relied upon any person reading the response. One should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to this inquiry.
There are many TV and internet ads and sites which suggest that they can and will provide Intellectual Property services. The Federal Trade Commission has closed several of such companies which have taken money without providing any service and others which have been professionally inadequate. Intellectual property services re: Patent, Trademark and Copyright involve complex law and ever changing case law as cases are analyzed and ruled upon by Federal Courts. $99 is ridiculus and suggests failure. The failure of a Trademark or Patent may not be realized for years. See Intellectual Property counsel. Attorneys across the nation, and in states other than where you reside, can provide these services.
My comments have been made without discussion. An attorney client relationship has not been established. There may be conflicts which prohibit my providing you with specific legal guidance. Any contact with you beyond these few general words will start with a disclosure of opposing parties so that a conflict check can be made. You should discuss with an attorney.