Salinas, CA asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark for California

Q: What is the best online service to use to trademark my company logo, slogan/process Is it risky for me to do it myself?

3 Lawyer Answers
Robert Philip Cogan
Robert Philip Cogan
Answered
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • San Diego, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I do not know if there is a best online service. It depends on your objective. If you want "cheap", you will find it. If you go to an attorney, you can get advice on strategy for best protecting your market An attorney can help make a selection for protecting combined word and design trademarks. An attorney can also help in strategy in use of registered trademarks, unregistered trademarks and trademark registrations issued by states.

When presenting an application, it is possible to say things that could weaken your position.

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Michael Gerity
Michael Gerity
Answered
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Phoenix, AZ

A: Obviously you could consider any answer to this question coming from an attorney to be biased, but think about this: Online services and cut rate services make their money from quantity. They charge little for each application, so they necessarily have to do A LOT of them to make any money. Now, if their entire goal is to process as many applications as possible, are they going to have any interest in pre-screening your mark to make sure your application will result in a successful registration? Of course not! The last thing in the world that they want is to turn people away, discourage them from filing or tell them to change the mark. They want to take your money, file the application fast, and then it's your problem what happens after that. In other words, their interests in getting you to file are in direct conflict with your interests in avoiding all of the problems that will prevent you from actually getting a registered trademark.

I get a very significant amount of my business from people who tried filing with the cut-rate, online services and had the process botched, mostly by a failure to properly vet the proposed trademark before filing. The proper vetting of a proposed mark by an experienced attorney is far and away the biggest advantage you get from paying for an attorney to assist with your application. While it's impossible to make any absolute guaranties, skilled vetting can almost completely eliminate substantive rejections (called "office actions") of your application, massively improving your chances of getting a successful registration of your trademark. In other words, catching the problems BEFORE you file is the single most important step in filing for trademark registration. What kinds of problems are we talking about here? There are many, but confusing similarity with existing marks, mere descriptiveness, foreign equivalents, flags and insignia, and offensiveness are but a few of the examples (though the law on that last one is currently in flux).

Remember, if your application is refused, then you lose every penny you spent on the application. That's at least $225 per class (and as much as $400 per class) just in the filing fee, plus whatever cut rate you paid to the online service, that you lose forever--gone. You then have to start over from scratch and pay those fees all over again, which suddenly makes your online service very expensive. Why not just do it right the first time with the help of an experienced trademark attorney who can steer you clear of all of the pitfalls in advance?

Andrew Zulieve Esq
Andrew Zulieve Esq
Answered
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Waldoboro, ME

A: In my opinion, and speaking as an attorney with more than 20-years experience in trademark and intellectual property law, I believe that your money is better spent hiring an experienced attorney who can provide a detailed availability opinion for your proposed trademark, and prepare, file and marshal any subsequent applications to register that mark with the U.S. Trademark Office.

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