You may already be familiar with LegalZoom, the online document preparation service that markets itself as providing “self-help services at your specific direction.” Contrary to what many people believe, LegalZoom is not a law firm and it cannot provide any legal advice or guidance. This is precisely the reason why you should think twice about using LegalZoom to perform your trademark search.
There is no question that LegalZoom offers trademark search services at prices that are cheaper than what most trademark attorneys would charge. But, that doesn’t mean LegalZoom is a good value. The following is a true story that vividly illustrates what you’re actually getting when you make the unfortunate decision to purchase trademark search services from LegalZoom.
A couple of months after I started my law practice, a prospective client came to me with a “LegalZoom Comprehensive Trademark Search Report.” It was a whopping 1300 pages and it was chock-full of facts, figures, dates, and legal references. The good news was that this guy only paid LegalZoom a couple hundred dollars for the trademark search. The bad news was that he couldn’t make heads or tails of it. In fact, 99.9% of the population would find the LegalZoom search report utterly incomprehensible. The remaining .01% have a law degree, a few years of experience practicing trademark law, and about a month to actually read and digest the search report.
As I’m sure everyone understands, the most important part of a trademark search is the interpretation and explanation of the trademark search results. The whole point of the trademark search is to determine whether you can use and federally register your trademark without being sued for trademark infringement. But because LegalZoom is not a law firm, it cannot offer you a legal opinion as to whether using or applying to register your trademark would violate the rights of someone else. It cannot tell you whether your trademark falls into one of the numerous categories of trademarks that are barred from federal registration under any circumstances. And it certainly cannot inform you as to the likelihood of your trademark application being accepted or rejected by the Trademark Office.
The fact of the matter is that when you pay LegalZoom to conduct a trademark search, all it gives you is a large compilation of data reproduced straight from government trademark records. LegalZoom leaves it completely up to you to figure out whether using and registering your trademark would be in your best interest. All LegalZoom can do is compile 1300 pages of information, tell you the search is “comprehensive,” pocket your hard-earned money, and leave you wondering what to do with the voluminous search report other than to curl it like a dumbbell. Trust me, it would be cheaper just to buy a dumbbell.
As you can see, LegalZoom’s trademark search service isn’t good value because it doesn’t provide you with the information you’re really looking for. In contrast, an experienced trademark attorney will conduct a comprehensive federal trademark search and then issue you a detailed opinion fully explaining the results of the trademark search. You will then know about the risks associated with using and registering your trademark. Armed with that information, you can then make an informed decision as to whether you want to move forward with the trademark registration process, or perhaps choose a different trademark with less potential problems.
If you have any questions about why using LegalZoom for your trademark search is not a good idea, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.