We have discussed the importance of trademark in “Amazon Suggests Branding for All“, and compared good and bad trademarks in “How often do you Google your trademark“. This time, we will learn about how to register a trademark.
First of all, you can register a trademark with the federal or your state government. State governments continue to run separate and independent trademark registration systems, but in today’s commerce where state borders have little to no meaning in business, state registration of a trademark has become ineffective in most cases. Hence, we will talk exclusively about the federal trademark registration.
There are mainly two ways to register a trademark without hiring a trademark attorney. You can either use a private website offering an assistance or directly register with the United State Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).
If you use a private website, you can proceed with a small fee, like $50, if you choose its lowest tier service. Of course, the $50 service fee does not include the USPTO fee that runs $225 and up. On the other hand, if you register with the USPTO directly, you pay only the USPTO fees. For your information, you will be paying maintenance fees for your registered trademark, which will be about $100 over a ten-year period, and there could be additional expenses depending on the result of an examination of your trademark application.
Q1. Can I register a trademark without special knowledge or experience?
I believe so. The USPTO knows that many trademark owners choose a path to register their trademarks by themselves, so it offers diverse educational materials. It even runs an online registration system that anyone can use freely.
Q2. How do you access the online registration system?
You can go to https://www.uspto.gov/trademark, where you will find links to the basics of trademark, instructional pages for registration, and online application forms. If you use an internet search engine, many private websites, especially their ads, will show up in the search result. The price they advertise does not include the UPSTO fees ($225 and up) and does not include any actual legal consultation but an automated guide through the registration process. So be aware.
Q3. I’m not good at working with forms written in English. Is there any help for Korean speakers?
We, ipfever.com, offer some help in Korean language at https://www.ipfever.com/ko, but we are still in an early stage. We will be expanding our Korean language support to the point that we can serve A to Z regarding a trademark registration.
Q4. Where do I file an application form?
The online registration system is known as Trademark Electronic Application System (“TEAS”), and you will find three different online application forms at https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/filing-online. Among those three, TEAS Plus is least expensive. In exchange, you will conduct all steps during the registration process exclusively online. If you wish to use paper forms or offline contacts, you need to pay the difference in fees.
Q5. How complex is the online trademark registration?
A trademark online registration process typically includes six steps, including steps where you simply provide your (and the trademark owner’s, if different) personal or business information including contacts. Often, there are only two steps relevant to the trademark itself. Furthermore, in most cases, you will do just fine by completing every step following the instruction.