Trademarks are undeniably valuable for any company or business to protect their brand and their products. A new business will want to register for a trademark as soon as possible, but may also be strapped for cash. So, how much exactly is this protection going to cost?
Registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will cost $250 for one class of products. The cost can be more depending on how many classes fall under the trademark and which version of the application system is used. Paying for a lawyer will also make filing more expensive.
The exact cost of registering a trademark will vary for each unique situation, but let’s look at the different factors that will accumulate into the final cost.
Registering through USPTO
Most people looking to trademark their name will want to work through the USPTO. This will provide registration and protection across the whole country. You have the option to either file online or on paper, but online will be faster and the fees are also smaller. The fees are easy to pay since USPTO accepts credit cards or EFTs, but it is important to note that there are no refunds for filing fees.
USPTO registration fees are based on the number of classes of goods or services that your trademark will be representing. For electronic filing through your USPTO account, the initial application fees are either $250 or $350 for every class of goods/services, depending on if you use their Standard or Plus filing system.
Many businesses will only be selling one class, or category, of goods and services. The fees will quickly pile up if you are covering multiple classes. For example, if you are a beverage company that also sells T-shirts with company branding, you will need to pay $250 for the use of your trademark on the restaurant building and advertisements, and another $250 for the trademark use on the shirts. On the other hand, a company selling both protein shakes and soft drinks will only have to pay $250, since the drinks fall under the same class. The USPTO website has a comprehensive list of classes that you can use to better estimate how much your company will have to pay to register your trademark.
When you submit your application, you have to include your ‘filing basis’. This will usually be either an intent-to-use basis or use in commerce basis. If you file on an intent-to-use basis, you will need to prove your use within a certain time frame. It will cost $100 to show use after the initial application. You can also pay an optional fee of $125 to extend the period of time you have to prove your use of the trademark. With the application, you will also need a registration basis that will either be used in commerce or foreign registration. (Source)
Making sure you correctly file each portion of the application for trademark registration can make a huge difference in the final cost. If there are any errors or missing portions, the USPTO will reject the application and you will have to pay additional fees per class to amend the application.
Since the application can be long and complicated, many people will choose to hire a trademark lawyer to apply for them. USPTO does require you to designate a U.S.-licensed attorney at some point in the process. A good lawyer will check the registration for any trademark duplicates and will be able to correctly fill out the application. This may save money in amendment and replication fees, but will also introduce higher legal fees. Depending on your comfort level with legal documents, a lawyer may or may not be worth the extra cost.
TEAS Plus vs. TEAS Standard
The USPTO has one filing form with two different Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) options. The cheapest option is TEAS Plus at $250 per class, but you could also use TEAS Standard for $350 per class and more lenient requirements. In general, TEAS Plus has more specific requirements up-front, while TEAS Standard has the same requirements, but spread over a longer time frame.
Being on top of things and meeting all of the USPTO requirements immediately can save you $100 per class. However, if you fail to meet the Plus requirements, you will be charged a fee of $100 per class, canceling out the benefit of filing up-front. Also, the Plus application must be filled out by an attorney, where the Standard doesn’t require the designation of an attorney until later. If you are using an attorney you trust, or are very confident in your filing, the Plus option is a great way to save your business a little cash. If you need a little extra time or just don’t want to risk fees, Standard also works great. (Source)
The initial registration of the trademark is not the only time you will have to pay. In order to stop your trademark from expiring, you will need to file for renewal and prove that your mark is in use every 10 years. A combined declaration of use and application for renewal filing will cost $525 per class every ten years. Additionally, a declaration of incontestability will cost $200 per class.
These fees are assuming you are able to correctly submit on time. The USPTO does have a six-month grace period following each deadline, but filing during the grace period will add additional fees. If you don’t renew your registration, your trademark will expire or be canceled, and you will lose rights. (Source)
Other Registration Options
There is the option to only trademark your name in a certain state. The fees for rights vary state to state but are generally less than $150. This could be a good, cheap option if you are only in a small geographic area and don’t need any rights or protection outside of a few states.
For larger companies, you may want to look into the international registration of your trademark. You can do this through WIPO and the Madrid System. The basic fee for international registration through the Madrid system is 653 Swiss Francs or about $709.50. The exact countries where you want to protect your trademark, the addition of color, and the number of classes covered by your trademark will add additional costs on top of the basic fee. (Source)