At our law firm, we don’t believe in “hiding the ball.” If there is a situation where it is more economical and efficient for a potential client to file for a trademark on their own, we will be the first to let them know!
One thing we do suggest, however, is avoiding the wide range of low-cost trademark services on the internet. They are essentially glossier versions of what you can access for free by going directly through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Paying to use such sites does not provide any extra guidance or support; that is what working with an attorney is for. So, if your goal is to truly do it yourself and save on fees, it’s best to access the USPTO website directly.
How to Get Started
We’ve recorded this video that gives a basic overview of the USPTO website and how to use it to file for a trademark.
A few things to note…
- Before you file, make sure to use the search function! All filings are public and hitting “submit” will alert others to your use or intended use of your trademark. If you attempt to file for something that is the same or confusingly similar to someone else’s registered trademark, you will find yourself on the receiving end of a cease-and-desist or demand letter.
- Take a careful look at the classes for goods and services. This part can be tricky, and the protection you are afforded by your trademark depends on you getting this step correct (it’s not as clear cut as it may seem). Once filed, you may not add to your application and can only make changes that narrow the scope of your original goods and service. The number of classes of goods and services will also determine how much your application costs. You can search the Trademark ID of Goods and service here https://idm-tmng.uspto.gov/id-master-list-public.html
- Ownership must be correct. One of the most common mistakes we see on DIY application is incorrect ownership. An application that is not filed by the correct owner is voidable. Generally, the owner is the one who controls the nature and quality of the goods and/or services used in connection with the brand. Usually, the owner is the entity or individual that sells (retail or wholesale) the goods or services in US commerce, but sometimes it can be more complex.
- No counseling or analysis is provided. Again, that’s the downside of filing on your own. As you start the process and work through the search function and the various classes, you may start to have questions about the repercussions of your filing and whether you are covering all the bases to accomplish your goals. The USPTO does provide some advice, but they will not provide legal advice and you might say something to the USPTO that can be used against you (think Miranda Warning: “Anything you say can and will be used against you…”) If you get stuck or simply want the peace of mind knowing that your trademark was done right, you’ll have to shift gears and contact an attorney who can guide you through the rest of the process.
Still have questions?
Filing for a trademark on your own is not rocket science or surgery. It can be done cheaply and easily, but the potential for mistakes, oversights, and even infringement certainly exists. If you are unsure about something at any stage of the process, get help rather than guessing at the right response. The investment you make into having your questions answered correctly now and working with an attorney could be what keeps you out of court or from having your goods or services ripped off because you weren’t protected the way you thought you were.
If we can assist you in any way with your filing, please do not hesitate to reach out. Simply contact us at (888) 666-0062 or click here to schedule a free Initial Needs Assessment online.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.