How Do I Register My Trademark With the USPTO?
To register your mark with the USPTO you can either hire a trademark attorney to file an application for you, or you can register it yourself on the USPTO website. The former option is obviously more expensive and could range from hundreds to thousands of dollars; however it is often worth the money to ensure accuracy during the sometimes-confusing registration process.
If you’re still reading this, I assume it’s because you may not be ready for an attorney yet. Registering your mark by yourself on the USPTO website costs between $225 and $325 per class (category) of goods you are registering. The process can be confusing, but I’ll walk you through it:
Step 1: Check to make sure that your mark is not already in use. If you file an application and it is rejected because someone else registered your mark before you, you do not get the application fee back.
Step 2: File an application online through the TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System). There are three choices of applications; TEAS Plus, TEAS Reduced Fee, and TEAS Regular, so be sure to fill out the one that fits best for you. The basic differences between the three forms are as follows:
- TEAS Regular ($325 per class) is the standard electronic application.
- TEAS RF ($275 per class) has a reduced fee from the TEAS regular, but must file electronically and authorize email communication.
- TEAS Plus ($225 per class of goods and/or services in the application) has the lowest filing fee, but you must fill out almost every field in the form, use the ID Manual to describe your goods or services, pay all fees for all classes at the time of the filing, file the application electronically, and authorize e-mail communication.
You can read more about the difference between the three forms here. Filling out the application for your trademark should take under 90 minutes.
Step 3: An attorney from the USPTO reviews the application. The review will usually take three to six months, during which time they will often find a problem with the application. Correcting the problem could be as simple as amending an address, but could also be as complicated as redefining the goods and services you originally defined in your application. When this (and any other) refusal is sorted out, the USPTO will approve your application and publish it for opposition.
Step 4: Anyone can now oppose your mark for a number of different reasons. If someone files an Opposition, a proceeding is held before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Sometimes, this can be as complicated and costly as court litigation. If there is no opposition filed, or if the filed opposition is not successful in preventing your registration, the mark is allowed, and you receive a notice of allowance.
Step 5: Prove use of your mark by sending evidence of your use in commerce to the USPTO. You have three years to do so, but of course, you have to pay an extension fee every six months that you fail to provide use. There is a trademark office fee of $100 per class every six months that you extend.
Step 6: Once you prove use and the USPTO accepts it, they will give you the registration for your newly registered trademark.
The whole process from start to finish will take from one, to up to five years to complete. Your registration is valid for yen years, at which time it can be renewed. However, at the sixth anniversary from the registration date, you will need to file proof your mark is still being used; otherwise the trademark office will cancel the registration.