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Intellectual Property TEAS plus Trademark Trademark Application U.S. Trademark

TEAS Plus, RF (reduced fee) Explained

By carefully filling out all the required blanks and agreeing to go paperless in communicating with the USPTO, you can reduce your application fees from $325 to $225 (TEAS plus).

TEAS RF allows you to enter goods/services description in your own words for a slightly heftier fee, but it is not recommended if you want the examination process to be as quick as possible. If you pick one from the Trademark ID manual (by USPTO), the examiner will unlikely oppose to the propriety of the description.

Not all questions are straightforward. When you’re in doubt, always consult USPTO guidelines. Always consult a professional before making decisions. All you learned today may be a tip of an ice burg.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

Trademark Clearance Search

It is absolutely necessary to find out if there is anyone using your mark prior to your use. A clearance search is often performed through proprietary services, which often search not only state and federal registrations but also common law trademarks. Typically, a better service costs more; but depending on your situation a simple Google search may suffice.

Typically, a clearance search provides lists of all current state, federal, common law trademarks that are identical or similar to your mark. Unless your mark is very unusual, you will face a number of identical and similar trademarks in use. Even if there is an identical trademark registered and used, it does not necessarily mean that you can’t use the mark; however, it is also true that even if there is no identical trademark, you might not be able to use the mark. At the end it all comes down to whether your use of the mark would infringe other trademark owner’s rights.

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Intellectual Property TEAS plus Trademark Trademark Application U.S. Trademark

Trademark Registration: do I need to hire an attorney?

Getting a trademark, you can either “do it yourself” or hire a professionals. DIY option describes not only filing directly via TEAS at USPTO.gov but also using commercial services under $100.

Let’s compare these two options.

Do it yourself Professional Help
Mark Your choice of wording and design Likely a better wording and design
Registration online trademark search/registration via your representative
Cost USPTO fees + $100 commercial service fees USPTO fees + up to $2,000 attorney fees + design cost

Trademark registration is not too complicated.

Nonetheless, mistakes can cost your time and money. If you are not going to hire an attorney, you should read and watch everything on USPTO’s Trademark Basics before you proceed. On a side note, even if things go smoothly while registering trademark, lawyers can improve the strength of the registered trademark significantly and designers will give your logo/design a professional look.

USPTO offers an online application form through TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System).

There are various forms including TEAS plus, TEAS RF (Reduced Fee), and TEAS regular application types. Latter forms are subject to higher fees but offers some flexibility to applicants. Assuming you don’t make any mistake in filling out the form, you can save up to $100 by choosing TEAS plus. TEAS forms are web-based, guided, multi-page forms that anyone can learn the process as-you-go.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

You’ve got to “use” your trademark

Let’s take a look at an interesting story:

By the time Apple Inc. debuted iPhone in January 2007, the prefix “i” had already become a thing of Apple. The inauguration of iMac series dates back in 1998. In 2003, iPod was a mega hit.

Lesser known than Apple, however, there was a startup called InfoGear Technology Corporation, which developed an internet phone technology, called “iPhone.”

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

For DIY TM Applicants: What’s a Strong tradeMark?

There is a “strong mark” and a “weak mark”. You don’t need to know all legal distinctions as to different types of marks, but you want to have a strong mark, right? Here’s a shortcut to get to the goal.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

What is Trade Dress?

When it comes to trademark (or servicemark), brand names, symbols, and logo designs are the first things to come to your mind. However, there are other types of trademarks that are protected. For example, a sound or packaging is also protected by the trademark law.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

Cheapest Way to Protect Your Trade Name (or Trademark, Servicemark, etc)

Have you been to a Burger King restaurant in Mattoon, Illinois? I mean the other Burger King restaurant. There is a restaurant called Burger King, which has nothing to do with Burger King franchise.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

When to Register Trademark?

Most clients come to me after their products reached the market. In fact, that’s when you know for sure that your product has the potential to be something. If not, why invest in registering trademark?

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

Outline – Trademark

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Intellectual Property TEAS plus Trademark Trademark Application U.S. Trademark

$225 to Register a Trademark?

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.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

How often do you Google your trademark?

How do you react to a sight of a retail store that just launched? Early adopters enjoy using a product or service before other people do, but most of the consumers tend to be a lot less passionate about embracing a new store although its sight might pop among aging stores.

That is why many businesses spend fortune to run commercials on TV and place advertisements on publications to familiarize their trademarks to customers. Since an excessive amount of advertisements is pouring in through various media, most modern consumers consider the ads as something they want to avoid as much as possible.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

Amazon Suggests Branding for All

Approaching the 2017 holiday shopping season, the e-commerce giant Amazon’s stock price is heading to $1,200. Amazon.com, often quoted as “The Everything Store”, reportedly accounts for 46% of the entire online retail sales.

An interesting thing about shopping at Amazon.com is that you do not particularly notice the items sold directly by Amazon. All items sold at Amazon receive the same treatment, and the same format applies to all product pages. The product order is determined by objective statistics like sales, rating, and price. Quite often, items sold by third-party sellers are bestsellers or Amazon’s Choice.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

What is Trademark?

A trademark is a mark you use in order to identify your good or service.

For instance, IPfever is a trademark as it’s associated with services and contents offered at IPfever.com. If a law professor wants to start a blog about IP, she shouldn’t name it IPfever. Such naming would mislead people to think that the blog was associated with IPfever.

But, on the other hand, if a medical researcher encounters a feverish symptom related to Information Profession, she’s free to call it “IP fever,” to publish a paper titled “IP fever,” and so on. There’s no problem with such designation because the trademark IPfever, at the moment, has nothing to do with medical diagnosis.

So, you can freely catch an IPfever, and you may sell an IPfever brand roasted coffees. But you may not provide an IPfever service if that’s related to what is offered on ipfever.com.

That’s a brief overview of what trademark does and doesn’t. Let’s find out more.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

US Trademark Backlog in the 1Q 2018?

There’s been reports about a huge number of applications, originating from China. See e.g. this WJ article at https://www.wsj.com/articles/flood-of-trademark-applications-fromchinaalarms-u-s-officials-1525521600.

Then, is there a backlog created by the increase of Chinese trademarks?

I had a chance to look at the dates of applications filed on behalf of my clients from 3Q to 4Q of ’17 and to figure out what’s going on.

Legal examination of a trademark application starts after about three months from the filing date, and depending on the assigned examiner and the result of the examination, it can take a month to many months. I felt in 3Q and 4Q of ’17, the examination process moved slower than before, comparing 1Q and 2Q of ’17, but it might’ve be just coincidental.

When an examination is completed, there’s a notification that sets forth the publication date in about 20 days. That waiting period for publication has been more or less consistent from 4Q of ’17 to 1Q of ’18.

After the application is published in the Official Gazette, If there’s no opposition during next 30 days, the application moves on to the process of being registered. This registration process usually took about 6 weeks in 4Q of 2017 and about the same time in 1Q of 2018.

So, what’s the conclusion? If there’s a backlog, it must be on the legal examination part of the process as you probably guessed. And unfortunately, the examination process is one of the trickiest part to tell how long it usually takes, rendering our survey inconclusive.

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

How much does a trademark registration REALLY cost?

Above is a cumulative showing of trademark fees (government fees only).

Assuming you use your trademark for a single type (category) of product/service, an online application fee can cost as low as $225, plus a $125 one-time maintenance fee after 5 years of use and $425 every 10 years. Total $1,200 over 20+ years? Not much right?

However, if you don’t do it correctly, there are penalties.

When you fail to provide all necessary information at filing, you will be subject to fees varying from $50 to $150 per incident. There are also optional filings that might strengthen your trademark. And if you miss a date on maintenance fees, you may be penalized. Those penalties can accumulate well past the initial filing fee.

Aside from that, there are legal fees.

Many attorneys charge a flat legal fee of $1000-$2000 per mark plus government fees. If your mark experiences rejections from the USPTO, they might ask for more money on an hourly basis during subsequent actions.

As a result, your cost can vary widely depending on your trademark and how you proceed with it.

[updated to reflect increase in fees in 2017]

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Intellectual Property Trademark U.S. Trademark

Tax forms are complex and lengthy, but they can’t go south.

Federal trademark registration has become a standard practice for many reasons including (1) it’s inexpensive (as low as $225 to apply online); (2) due to the internet, no one does business in a single state; and (3) branding becomes crucial to even small businesses. And if I add one more to the list, it’s fairly easy.

The easiness comes with a risk.

For example, federal tax forms are usually very complex and lengthy; they are designed to make you write down all taxable incomes imaginable, even those you would never know they were considered income. A trademark application, on the other hand, is very simple and straightforward. In other words, it’s easy to fill out the forms but hard to do it right.

So there’s $99 (plus application fees) trademark registration services online.

Unfortunately, not many people see this as a problem. These services simply let you search registered trademarks online, to apply trademark online, and remind you of important dates for maintaining registration. Well, it sounds like a lot, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) offers Trademark Electronic Search, Trademark Electronic Application, and even email reminders of important dates, for free of charge.

There is a reason for such a low price.

Online registration services do provide convenient tools and ease the pain of yours, but they come with a price (literally and also in the form of a false sense of security).

 

See other topics in the Basics in 10 min.