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Things every client should know about trademarks

How much does it typically cost to obtain a trademark registration?

In most cases, the cost for the filing of a trademark application is driven by four factors:

(a) the hourly rate of the trademark practitioner you’ve hired;

(b) the number of hours it takes that practitioner to prepare and file the application;

(c) the cost of any subsidiary services (e.g., performance of a trademark search); and

(d) associated governmental fees.

Thus, if you’ve hired a trademark attorney to prepare a trademark application for you, and (a) he charges $200.00 per hour; (b) the application requires four (4) hours of effort on his part to prepare and file it; (c) no search is performed; and (d) the PTO filing-related filing fees amount to $375.00, then your total bill will come to approximately ($200.00 x 4) + $375.00 = $800.00 + $375.00 = $1,175.00.

Thus, if you want to control / minimize cost, then it is extremely important to do your best to communicate well with your trademark attorney. If the two of you communicate naturally and effectively, and you are actively engaged in supporting the application preparation process, then it is likely that the two of you will generate a well-written application in an efficient block of time.

Two caveats follow.

First, if you’re offered the opportunity to hire a trademark attorney on a “flat fee” basis, make sure to be very clear, up front, about the trademark or trademarks to be protected and the desired depth and breadth of protection. In point of fact, nearly all trademark attorneys (even those who do a fair amount of “flat fee” - type work) do a nontrivial amount of work by the hour, so ask early on about the trademark attorney’s customary hourly rate. That way, if he advises that his customary hourly rate is $250.00 per hour, and he later quotes you a flat fee of $500.00 for the preparation of the trademark application, you know that he is estimating that he is going to spend approximately two (2) hours preparing the application. If, based upon your understanding of the business model you’re trying to protect, that number seems low, then you know that the two of you should have some additional discussion about the depth, breadth, scope and strength of the protection you seek.

Second, be aware of the fact that the filing of a trademark application isn’t the end of the process. Rather, it’s the beginning. Communications from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the “PTO”) will follow the filing of the application, and dealing with those communications will require the expenditure of additional time and additional governmental fees. As unpleasant as this may be, it’s just a simple fact of life in dealing with the PTO.

Thus, don’t hesitate to ask your trademark attorney to explain some of the basics regarding how the trademarking process works and how the PTO’s fee schedules work as well. The fees and expenses that lie down the road are generally not enormous; however, they aren’t trivial either, so talking about this with your trademark attorney will help you to understand (and feel good about) the process that lies ahead. Fortunately, because, in most cases, after the application is filed, it will remain pending at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for 1-2 years before it issues, the post-filing costs won’t be incurred for some time (which should facilitate the management of cash flow).

After the trademark issues, your company may apply the well-known “®” symbol indicating that your company’s mark is a registered trademark.

Our principal office is in Richardson, Texas. Our clients are nationwide.
If you’re in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, you’re next door.
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Law Office of Paul W. Fulbright, PLLC
2003 J J Pearce Drive
Richardson, Texas 75081
Office Tel: (972) 907-8679
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