Trademarks are a valuable part of a business, including trademarking your company name or brand name. They provide a brand behind which you can position your company and grow. It is a unifying element telling your market that your products and/or services come from your company. It can be your shield and defense from counterfeit attempts. It can be the umbrella under which you can continue to grow and develop. Your trademark can become the face of your company and the core of your advertising campaign and the name by which your market comes to recognize what you are building.
If you’ve ever seen a mark on a product such as an “®,” a “TM,” or an “SM,” you are seeing an identifier for a trademark. The “®” denotes a federally registered trademark while the “TM" corresponds to an unregistered trademark and the “SM” indicates an unregistered service mark.
Given that a trademark can be so core to your company, what does it cost to trademark a name for your company?
First, you’ll need to know that there are at least three types of costs corresponding to a trademark. The first is the application cost or the cost to apply to have the mark registered, the second is the prosecution cost or cost to address any issues that may arise before it registers, and the third cost is maintenance fees or cost to keep the mark after it has been registered. Each of these costs can vary a bit.
Trademark costs in the form of application fees can vary a bit depending on the answer to a few questions.
First, we will need to identify a class or plurality of classes to which the mark will apply. Different classes identify different goods and services. Many trademarks designate a single class but it is not uncommon to associate a trademark with multiple classes. Each additional class provides an expanded protection under the trademark but also increases costs. Additionally, some classes for a single mark may be “Use in commerce” while others are “Intent to Use” which brings us to our next question: the filing basis of the trademark application.
The basis of a mark tells us whether 1) the mark is one that is currently used to sell products or services or otherwise put out into commerce, or 2) the mark is one that has not yet been used in the market? The answer to this question will determine if a “Use in Commerce” trademark application or an “Intent to Use” trademark application is required. “Intent to Use” marks will require that we show actual use later on while “Use in Commerce” marks will require that specific evidence be supplied at the time of filing the application.
Once we know the filing basis (Use in Commerce or Intent to Use), we can move to the next step, which is to determine if we can use the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) to file a Plus Application or a Standard Application. Here are some of the differences between the two:
Cost: Plus applications are less expensive than the Standard variant but are also more restrictive as to the types of marks that qualify for a Plus application.
Description: Plus applications require the use of premade goods and services descriptions associated with the selected class(es). If there is no listing that is appropriate for the goods or services, we will need to create our own and file a Standard Application.
Nature of the Mark: Plus applications are for English words without any additional elements such as specific colors, artwork, previous trademark applications by the same applicant, name of a person, non-Latin characters, etc.
Additional information on Plus and Standard applications can be found HERE or in a video created by the United States Patent and Trademark Office which can be found HERE.
After an application is filed, it will be assigned to an Examining Attorney who will act as a gatekeeper to make sure there are no issues with the trademark as specified in the application. This may involve a refusal to register which will require a response in order to overcome any issues and proceed to registration. Having a skilled attorney at your side can increase costs but is also likely to vastly increase the chance of successfully registering the mark.
Maintenance fees are charged between the 5th and 6th year of registration and then every 10 years from the date of registration.
Those are the three main costs corresponding to a trademark. These will vary from situation to situation, so if you would like to get a more definitive answer for your situation, you should talk to your attorney.
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