What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a tool that makes sure all of your hard work is not stolen. A few decades ago, nobody would think about trademarking. Back then, that was the culture. However, now with creativity at an all-time low, it is almost a necessity to protect your brand from thieves. If you have a logo, a product, a brand name, and you want to make sure nobody copies it, this is your best option. This is how you protect your brand.
What a Trademark is Not
A trademark is not a patent. The distinction of the two is that a patent is very detailed. If you are an inventor and have a new product you have designed and want to protect, you don’t need a trademark, you need a patent. Patent attorneys are highly specialized. Also, patent law requires an additional exam to be licensed in order to practice patents.
Most patent attorneys are also Ph.D.’s in some form of science or engineering. The reason being that they have to understand how the product works themselves. Trademarks do not do that. Rather, they protect names, likeness, logos, brands. In short, trademarks are much more concerned with the names and looks of something as opposed to how the product works.
What is the Process of Getting a Trademark?
A trademark is a very lengthy process. The first step is searching the TESS. This is a system that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) uses to store information on all current, and dead, trademarks. The number one reason why your trademark will be denied is because it is substantially similar to an already live trademark.
So, in order to check to see if your trademark has a high likelihood of approval, you will have to scour tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of active trademarks. This is the same thing the USPTO attorney will do to decide whether your trademark will be approved. The USPTO will deny your application if it is likely to cause confusion by being similar to another trademark.
For instance, say you want to trademark Coca-Cola. You decide to change the “c” to “k” and submit an application for “koka-kola.” Well, that will not fly. It is way too close and will definitely cause confusion. After you are confident your trademark will be approved, you submit an application and pay either $250 or $350. The amount of which depends on what application you submit.
At that point, you wait. It could take over a year to finally get a final answer, and that answer can still be a no. No refunds will be given. But, if you do your due diligence early, you are maximizing your chances of being approved.
Do You Need an Attorney for Filing a Trademark?
The answer is, it depends. If it is your own business, or your own trademark you are registering to yourself, no. You do not need an attorney for that. If you are a foreign entity, you will need an attorney. However, just because you do not “need” an attorney, does not mean you should not get one. The TESS search system is what 90% of the work will go into.
It is a very complicated system and if you do not know how to navigate it, you will never find similar trademarks. This turns your application into a guessing game. You would submit your application and “hope for the best.” An attorney who practices trademark law will be well-versed in the TESS system and will maximize your chances of being approved.
It is important to note that even if you do have a great attorney, there is no guarantee of approval. That approval rests solely with the USPTO.
How Much Does a Trademark Cost to Protect Your Brand?
Generally, anywhere from $1000-$3000 is normal to trademark your brand. It just depends on the complexity of your product.
How We Can Help
In closing, trademark law is a crucial part of business and corporate law. This is an area we specialize in. If you need a trademark done, we would be happy to help. You can contact us to learn more. At Shield Wall Legal, we love to help businesses grow. Part of that is by protecting your brand with a trademark.