What is a trademark?
A trademark is any word, design or other thing that identifies the source of a good or service. In the United States, a registered trademark is identified by the ® symbol and a non-registered trademark is identified by the letters ‘TM.’
Trademarks are classified according to the trademark’s level of “distinctiveness,” which is generally understood to fall into 1 of 4 categories: generic (“apple” for apples), descriptive (“red” for apples), suggestive (“honeycrisp” for apples), and arbitrary/fanciful (“Apple” for computers).
Why should I register a trademark?
Registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) gives you the exclusive right to use the trademark nationwide and creates a legal presumption of ownership. You can also use the ® symbol, sue in federal court under federal law, request statutory damages (instead of proving actual damages), and register your trademark in another country, based entirely on the US registration. A trademark can also become a valuable intangible asset that you can include in the net worth of your company.
How do I register a trademark?
To register a trademark in the United States, you or your attorney must file an application with the USPTO. This application can be based on actual use of the trademark or simply an intent to use the trademark. It can also be based on a registration in a foreign country.
How much does it cost to register a trademark?
The USPTO charges $325 per trademark, per class of goods. So, for example, if you register the word “NIKE” for shoes and golf balls, it will cost $650, even though you are registering only one word. Likewise, it will also cost $650 to register the word “NIKE” and the “Swoosh” symbol just for shoes. In addition, there are costs for hiring an attorney.
Why do people hire attorneys to file trademarks?
There are two major reasons: time and knowledge. Many people start a business while they are employees of a company and working 40+ hours a week. They simply don’t have the time to learn about trademark law and then file a trademark application. They also know they won’t have time to communicate with the USPTO’s examining attorney and handle additional paperwork after the registration is filed.
Even if they have the time, they often recognize that their time is better spent directly on the business – product development, market research, advertising, etc. Furthermore, it can be stressful to register a trademark if you don’t know enough about trademark law. A trademark attorney can eliminate that stress and free you to focus on your business.
Why do people file for trademarks without an attorney?“
The most likely reason is money. Registering a trademark and hiring an attorney can be an expensive part of starting a business. However, most business owners who file for their own trademarks probably do not appreciate the costs of getting the trademark part of the business “wrong.” The last thing a start-up company needs is to have to deal with a cease and desist letter, defend itself from an infringement lawsuit, relabel its goods, re-do its advertising, and then end up registering a new, second, trademark anyway! Business owners with a limited budget should consider finding partners or family members who share their passion and are willing to contribute to the start-up expenses for a share of the projected profits. If you need help forming a business entity with partners in Minnesota, Weseman Law Office, PLLC offers a full set of business law services.
How do I hire Weseman Law Office, PLLC to register my trademark?
Call 612-568-5532 or send an email to attorney Draeke Weseman at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about your trademark needs. You can also visit the Trademark page for a more specific explanation of the trademark services offered by Weseman Law Office, PLLC.