So, how much does a trademark cost? If you’ve read my recent article about the relationship between cost, risk, and value, you know I recommend performing a careful cost-benefit analysis before choosing a company or law firm to help you acquire a United States trademark registration. After all, cost is often a major concern for many individuals, businesses, and organizations seeking to register a trademark. That said, I’d like to address the related concept of “relevant costs” and show you how these costs factor into your efforts to acquire federal trademark protection for your particular name, logo, or slogan.
How Much Does a Trademark Cost? – What are Relevant Costs?
Relevant costs are the costs that actually matter when you are making a choice between two or more courses of action. Basically, a cost is relevant to your decision if:
1) it is a cost that has not yet been incurred, and
2) it is a cost that differs among your alternatives
So, let’s say you are ready to acquire a federal trademark registration. And, you are trying to decide whether to hire a trademark attorney to navigate the trademark process on your behalf, or use a do-it-yourself online trademark service such as LegalZoom or Trademarkia. In order to illustrate the concept of relevant cost, I will use my own law practice as the trademark attorney option, and Trademarkia as the do-it-yourself trademark service option. Also, to make things simpler in our example, I will focus only on monetary costs (although time and effort are also costs you should consider).
Exercise 1: Determining the Relevant Cost for a Federal Trademark Search
Let’s start by comparing options for conducting a federal trademark search. The federal trademark search is the vital first step in the trademark process because it will reveal pending applications and existing registrations for trademarks that may be in conflict with your mark and would prevent the legal use and/or registration of your mark.
My current fee for performing a comprehensive federal trademark search and issuing a written opinion letter is $250. By contrast, Trademarkia offers a “Standard Trademark Search Package” for $139.
Based on the above information, which costs are relevant to your decision? Well, the first criteria for a cost to be relevant is that you have not yet incurred it. That’s easy, since you have likely not yet incurred any costs associated with your trademark search decision. So, the costs quoted above are still in play.
Now, let’s examine the second criteria for a cost to be relevant, which is that the cost must be different among your alternatives. Again, that’s relatively easy to determine since the cost difference between my trademark law firm and Trademarkia can be calculated with some simple subtraction. The federal trademark search and opinion letter I offer is $250. The Standard Trademark Search Package offered by Trademarkia is $139. So, the cost difference between the two alternatives is $111. In others words, your purchasing decision will be based on a monetary outlay of $111, not $250 or $139. $111 is your relevant cost.
Now that you know working with me will cost $111 more, you have to evaluate what you get for this extra $111 investment. Well, for $111 you receive (1) an initial confidential telephone consultation with an experienced trademark attorney, (2) a comprehensive federal trademark search, (3) a written opinion letter fully detailing and explaining the search results, and (4) a confidential telephone consultation regarding the search results. In contrast, Trademarkia’s Standard Trademark Search Package only includes (1) a federal trademark search, and (2) an electronic, computer-generated search report. It does not include any advice or guidance from a trademark attorney, nor any interpretation or explanation of the trademark search results.
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself whether the additional services offered by my trademark law firm (which may save you money and headaches down the road) is worth $111. Of course, only you can answer that question based on your personal risk tolerance and perception of good value.
Exercise 2: Determining the Relevant Cost for a Trademark Application
Hopefully, Exercise 1 gave you a better sense of how to figure out the costs that matter to your trademark search decision. Now, let’s do one more quick exercise – a comparison of the trademark application fees charged by my law firm and Trademarkia. For this exercise, you need to know that the government filing fee for a US trademark application is generally $325 (but can sometimes be $275 depending on whether certain requirements can be met at the time of filing).
I currently charge a flat-fee of $725 to prepare and file your trademark application. This $725 includes the government filing fee and I will take care of everything for you from start to finish in a prompt and efficient manner. You will not have to fill out a single document or have any direct communication with the Trademark Office whatsoever. As your attorney, I will be available to answer all of your questions and address all of your concerns throughout the entire trademark registration process and beyond.
On the other hand, Trademarkia offers three options for trademark registration:
a) a Standard Package for $484 ($159 plus the $325 government filing fee)
b) a Plus Package for $664 ($339 plus the $325 government filing fee)
c) a Gold Package for $824 ($499 plus the $325 government filing fee)
Using what we have already learned, we can calculate the relevant cost associated with the choice between my law firm and Trademarkia’s Standard Package. It is $241 ($725 minus $484). Trademarkia is $241 less. But why is Trademarkia $241 less? It’s because Trademarkia does nothing more than provide you with a do-it-yourself questionnaire. It then transcribes your answers onto the official USPTO trademark application form (regardless of whether those answers are complete and accurate) and submits the application electronically. There is no substantive review, guidance, or consultation whatsoever prior to filing the application with the Trademark Office.
Next, we have the relevant cost of $61 to consider when choosing between my law firm and Trademarkia’s Plus Package. Trademarkia is $61 less ($725 minus $664). Even though you get more “add-ons” (mostly fluff) with Trademarkia’s Plus Package, you still receive little or no assistance from an actual trademark attorney.
Lastly, we have the relevant cost of $99 to consider when selecting between my trademark law firm and Trademarkia’s Gold Package. This time, Trademarkia is actually $99 more than what my law firm charges ($824 minus $725). And, with Trademarkia’s Gold Package, you still perform the lion’s share of the work yourself. Yes, you do finally get some attorney involvement, but it is an attorney assigned to you and not one you get to choose yourself. Furthermore, you do not get to speak with an attorney until you pay Trademarkia its $824 service fee. In contrast, I provide a free initial consultation and will navigate the entire trademark application process on your behalf, which will save you time, reduce your risk, and limit your aggravation.
I’m US trademark attorney Morris Turek. This article may seem like a big sales pitch for my law practice, but my true goal is to demonstrate the value of doing thorough research when selecting someone to help with your trademark needs. Just by digging a little deeper, it quickly becomes clear that the additional monetary investment you’ll make to work with an experienced trademark attorney is not as much as you may have thought. Plus, such investment can easily be justified by the level of personalized service and legal guidance you receive in return.
Unlike Trademarkia, I continually strive to provide my clients with maximum value for their hard-earned money. This is why I emphatically urge you not to risk using a do-it-yourself trademark service like Trademarkia. As illustrated, the price difference between me and Trademarkia is simply not as great as Trademarkia may lead you to believe. In some cases, Trademarkia actually costs more and you will be missing the personalized service necessary to effectively address your specific trademark needs.
So whether you are interested in a trademark search, federal trademark registration, or another trademark matter, please contact me at (314) 749-4059, firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply use the contact form found on every page of my website. As always, I look forward to discussing any trademark-related issues you may have.
Related Article: Morris Turek’s Flat-Fee Trademark Pricing