How much it will cost to trademark a logo or brand name depends on a number of factors.
We’ll break down the costs for both obtaining and maintaining a trademark. We’ll help you determine whether you need to pay for a trademark, walk you through the costs associated with each step, break down your expenses and discuss the pros and cons of hiring an attorney.
Do You Need a Trademark?
Before you begin calculating the cost of a trademark, it may save you some time and expense to first determine if you truly need one.
It helps to understand the difference between trademarks and the other main forms of intellectual property, patents and copyrights. To summarize briefly:
- Trademarks protect marks distinguishing your brand from competitors, such as your brand name, phrases associated with your brand, your logo and other symbols representing your brand, products and services
- Patents protect inventions, such as products or processes
- Copyrights protect creative works, such as books or software
So, if you’re trying to protect your brand name, logo or some other text or graphic associated with your brand, product or service a trademark would be appropriate. If you’re trying to protect an invention or creative work, you’ll want to look into a patent or copyright.
Trademarks that refer to services instead of products are also referred to as service marks. However, the term “trademark” frequently refers to both products and services, which is the usage we will follow here.
You Have Limited Common Law Trademark Rights Even Before You Apply for a Trademark
If you’re already using your mark to promote your brand or sell a product or service, you automatically enjoy certain rights in your immediate geographic area, known as “common law” rights. These rights protect you from local competitors who might use marks resembling your brand.
For instance, if another store in your town opened up using a name you’re already using to sell products competing with yours, common law rights would allow you to claim trademark infringement.
While common law rights do provide some degree of trademark protection in your immediate geographic area, they do not extend to a state-wide, national or international level. If you’re concerned about protecting your trademark beyond the local level, or if you want to prevent online competitors from outside your area from potentially claiming the rights to your mark, you will need to apply for a trademark with your state or the federal government.
If you want to file an application with your state, get in touch with the office of your state government which handles trademarks. This varies by state. The tips in this article will focus on federal trademark cost estimates.
Your Trademark Must Meet Qualifying Criteria
The intellectual property you’re trying to trademark must meet certain guidelines set by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to be eligible for a federal trademark. For one thing, your trademark must not be similar enough to that used by competitors that it could confuse buyers in your market. Additionally, your trademark application will gain approval more easily if you are using a name that is distinct from those widely used in your market or which suggests your brand in a creative way, not by describing it in direct or generic terms.
For example, before Apple became a brand by introducing its early computers to the market, the term “apple” wasn’t widely used to refer to computers, and it didn’t directly describe computers, making it easy to register and protect. Had Apple tried to protect a more generic name such as “American Computer Company,” this might have been more difficult to gain trademark approval or protect a trademark from other companies with similar names.
What Goes Into Trademark Costs?
The cost to trademark a business name, logo or phrase breaks down into a number of main items:
- Trademark search fees
- Trademark drawing fees
- Trademark application fees
- Trademark attorney fees
- Trademark maintenance fees
These are the most common fees. Depending on what happens with your application, you may incur additional fees. For instance, if you file an online application and fail to meet all requirements, you may need to pay an additional fee to complete the process.
Let’s look at what each of these fees goes to cover before we add up some trademark cost estimates.
Trademark Search Fees
A trademark search forms the foundation for a successful trademark application. In order for your trademark to be approved, it must not be similar enough to existing marks owned by competitors that buyers might become confused. The USPTO may reject your trademark application if it finds that your mark:
- Sounds too much like other marks
- Looks too much like other marks
- Conveys a meaning too similar to other marks
- Conveys an impression too similar to other marks
To determine whether your mark is too similar to existing marks, you must conduct a trademark search. The USPTO provides an online trademark search tool called the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
TESS is free to use. However, you must know how to use it correctly to use it effectively. You can search for marks by finding marks that have common elements or by searching for specific marks. If you don’t know how to do this the right way, your search may not be adequate to find all conflicting marks.
Furthermore, TESS only covers federally registered trademarks. It doesn’t cover state trademark databases or business name databases. It also doesn’t cover trademarks that are already in use but not federally registered, known as “common law trademarks,” which also enjoy a degree of legal protection. A comprehensive trademark search should cover these bases.
For these reasons, many trademark applicants find using TESS on their own too risky, and choose to hire a professional trademark attorney to assist them. This incurs your attorney’s fee for your trademark search.
If your trademark search determines that your trademark is already in use, you may need to pay additional fees to do another search after modifying your trademark.
Trademark Drawing Fees
If you’re trademarking a mark with graphic elements, such as a logo or symbol, you must submit a drawing with your application. Your drawing must meet certain requirements stipulated by the USPTO. This can require an investment in purchasing drawing materials or software or hiring a graphic artist.
Trademark Application Fees
When you apply for your trademark, you must submit an application fee. Filing fees vary based on:
- The type of product or service you sell
- The method you use to file
- Whether or not you are already using your trademark
The USPTO categorizes trademarks into classes defined by different types of products and services. If your trademark appears on multiple products and services, you must pay a separate fee for each class that applies. In certain specialized situations, you can get a discount for multiple classes. An attorney can help you determine if this applies in your case.
The method you use to file your application affects your fee. The USPTO charges more for paper applications, and it offers different electronic application options with different fees. The main initial application options for electronic filing are:
TEAS Plus, which is less expensive, can be used if you already have all the information you need to complete your electronic application and if all the identifications of goods and services you use are already listed in the USPTO’s online Trademark ID Manual. TEAS Standard is used if you do not have all the information you need or if you need to create a customized identification not already in the manual. For instance, if you need to describe a new technology that hasn’t yet been added to the manual, you would use TEAS Standard.
If you aren’t already selling your product or service when you apply for your trademark, you will need to begin selling it within a year, and you will need to file an additional form for verification when you start making sales, called a Statement of Use (SOU). This incurs an additional fee.
Trademark Attorney Fees
Attorneys who specialize in trademark matters are also known as trademark practitioners. In contrast to patent attorneys, trademark practitioners don’t need special licensing from the USPTO. You can hire any attorney to help you with your trademark application, but ideally, you would look for an attorney experienced with trademark matters, such as an attorney from a firm that handles intellectual property rights.
A trademark practitioner can perform several services for you:
- Helping you conduct a trademark search and interpret your search results correctly
- Advising you on legal matters, such as whether your desired trademark can be legally protected
- Representing you to the USPTO if you have to appeal a rejection of your trademark application
- Assisting you with maintaining your trademark rights
- Helping you enforce your trademark rights
Hiring a trademark attorney will add to your trademark costs. Some trademark attorneys charge by the hour, while others charge a flat fee for both conducting a trademark search and assisting your trademark filing.
Trademark Maintenance Fees
After your trademark is issued, you must file periodic maintenance documents to keep your registration alive. These documents must be filed within designated deadlines:
- Between the fifth and sixth years after registration date, when you must submit a statement known as a Section 8 declaration affirming that your trademark is still in use or that you have a valid reason for non-use
- Between the ninth and tenth years after registration, when you must submit a filing known as a combined Section 8 and Section 9 filing, which combines a Section 8 declaration with a renewal of your trademark
- Every 10 years after that (for example, between the 19th and 20th years after registration), when you must submit a combined Section 8 and Section 9 filing
Each of these filings incurs a fee.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Trademark?
The USPTO publishes an official fee schedule with detailed listings for the various costs which can figure into a trademark filing. Here are some numbers for both registering and maintaining a trademark:
How Much Does It Cost to Register a Trademark?
Line-item costs for the major components which go into trademark registration run as follows:
- Trademark search fees: free if you do it yourself using TESS, or incorporated into attorney fees if you hire an attorney
- Trademark drawing fees: free (plus cost of materials or software) if you do it yourself or $75 to $100 per page if you hire a professional draftsperson
- Trademark application fees: $750 per class for paper filings, $350 per class for TEAS Standard or $250 per class for TEAS Plus
- SOU fees (if applicable): $100 if filed electronically or $200 if filed by paper submission
- Trademark attorney fees: average of $100 to $300 per hour or a flat fee, adding $500 to $2,000 to USPTO fees, according to an analysis of quotes by professional services provider Thervo
So you will pay at least $250 if you file your trademark yourself. If you use an attorney, you can expect to pay an additional $500 to $2,000. Fees may vary depending on variables such as how many classes you include in your filing. See the USPTO’s fee schedule for more details.
How Much Does It Cost to Maintain a Trademark?
The cost of maintaining your trademark breaks down as follows:
- Cost to submit a Section 8 declaration between the fifth and sixth years after registration: $225 per class if submitted electronically or $325 per class if filed by paper submission
- Cost to renew trademark registration with a Section 9 declaration at 10-year intervals: $300 per class if filed electronically or $500 per class if filed by paper submission
- Cost of combined Section 8 and Section 9 filing at 10-year intervals: $525 if filed electronically or $825 if filed by paper submission
Additional fees may be incurred in some instances, such as filing late within the grace period.
Do You Need a Trademark Attorney?
You can save money by handling your own trademark application, but should you? There are several reasons why hiring an attorney may be advisable.
For one thing, an attorney can save you time on your trademark search application. The cost of your time may be worth the fee you pay an attorney.
An attorney is more likely to complete your search and application paperwork correctly. Submission mistakes may cost you additional fees.
An attorney can increase the odds of your trademark application being accepted. A study published in Stanford Technology Law Review found that trademark applications submitted without help from an attorney were 50% less likely to be approved.
Attorneys can represent you to the USPTO if you need to file a petition. If your domicile isn’t located in the U.S. or its territories, you are required to have a U.S.-licensed attorney represent you in trademark matters to the USPTO.
Finally, attorneys can help you enforce your trademark. Some attorneys provide trademark monitoring services and alerts to trademark violations.
Trademark Your Brand to Protect Your Profits
If you want to protect others from profiting from your company name or logo, filing for a trademark is a worthwhile investment.
The cost to register a trademark will run you a minimum of $250, but can run significantly higher if you hire an attorney. If you require funding to cover the cost to file a trademark, consider using a business line of credit or another form of small business financing.