Filing a Trademark: The How-To Guide

Filing a Trademark

A brand name, logo, and slogan are part of any sound business plan. To prevent competitors from copying your idea and brand identity, you must file for trademark protection. However, it might be your first time filing a trademark, and you may feel overwhelmed by the law’s complexity. 

Going through this process may seem intimidating at first, but a few tips make the whole thing more straightforward for everyone and increase your approval chances. While you can attempt to file by yourself, it’s always best to seek professional help in these situations to ensure everything proceeds smoothly. The cost to file a trademark is between $225 and $600 plus legal fees. If you hire a professional to do it, you should negotiate a fixed rate. Otherwise, an hourly rate might be more expensive.

Hire an attorney

While an attorney isn’t required when filing a trademark application, it’s highly recommended. Working with law or consulting firms can significantly increase the chance your trademark app will receive a stamp of approval. Plus, legal counsel can help you avoid mistakes and oversights. 

For instance, you can often search online databases to see if your brand name, logo, or slogan already has a trademark. However, some existing trademarks and pending applications may not be in those online databases. This gap in intel is why companies and individuals seeking guidance should strongly consider working with a reputable intellectual property consulting firm.

Determine trademark ownership

You’ll need to indicate whether an individual or business entity will retain the trademark’s ownership. If you’re a sole proprietor or a small limited liability company, you may want to register ownership under your name. However, assigning trademark ownership to your company is more beneficial if you’re a registered corporation. 

This way, when the individual founder moves on, the ownership of the trademark will remain with the organization. In either case, you’ll also designate a point of contact. At a bare minimum, contact information should include a physical mailing address. However, you can also include email addresses and phone and fax numbers.

Decide why you’re applying

Within a trademark application, you have to indicate whether you’ll be using the trademark in business activities or you have future intentions to use it. If you choose the former, you’ve already used the trademark in your business activities. The latter means you haven’t been using the trademark in trade but want to in the future.

Include the required content

Your trademark application requires more than the written form itself. Besides indicating who or what entity will own the trademark, you’ll need to provide proof of citizenship or entity formation. If you’re filing for individual ownership, you’ll probably need to include a copy of your U.S. passport or birth certificate. 

But with corporate ownership, you’ll have to attach articles of incorporation or similar paperwork. Other requirements include a drawing of the trademark, a description, and what goods and services you’ll use with it. You’ll also need the international classes of the goods and services, the date of first use, a notarized statement or declaration of authenticity, and the fee.

Before you go

The process of filing for a trademark requires close attention to detail. Even if you follow all the steps above, you will likely need help. That’s why working with an attorney or experienced intellectual property consulting firm is ideal for a trademark filing process that pays off for your brand.