Finding the right website to register your valuable trademark assets is a daunting task. Trademark registration is simply a very confusing subject and unfortunately many of the websites that offer this service make it even more confusing for you. As just one example, many offer multiple packages to choose from. The average businessperson with brands to register will have no clue how to decide which package is best. The fact of the matter is that there are no choices to be made when seeking to register your trademark. There is one process and that is the process that should be performed by anyone offering this service. So, if you see “cheap” package deals, avoid them like the plague. These will put your trademarks at risk if you don’t do everything required to maximize the chances that you will obtain your trademark registration or worse yet that you will not be sued for trademark infringement! The mere fact that someone is offering this option to you should let you know that they are not knowledgeable about the subject.
Which leads to the next big thing to look out for. When you compare trademark registration services online, there are two major categories of websites that you need to be aware of. The first are the document filing websites or self-help websites. Some of these can be found at a website named comparelegalforms (online-trademark-search-registration.html), a website that does no justice to the consumer of trademark registration services. This is because it does not include any trademark attorney websites – the second category of trademark registration services online. The ONLY way to register a trademark is by using a trademark attorney. Simply put, any other service CAN NOT PROPERLY REGISTER YOUR TRADEMARK for you. This is because only an attorney can provide legal advice. It is simply not possible to have any degree of confidence that your trademark application will be successful without the advice of an attorney to evaluate a trademark search, draft an appropriate specification of goods and services, advise of which filing basis is appropriate and to respond to substantive issues raised by the USPTO (this is just a short list). I am not even addressing the serious concerns about unauthorized practice of law that surround the document filing services.
So now that you know that you must narrow your search to those that are provided by trademark attorneys, what do you need to look for in these websites? First, how do you find them? Well, perhaps the best search term to use is “flat fee trademarks” or “flat fee trademark attorney”. This is because all of the top trademark registration attorney websites offer flat fees and will advertise that on their websites. There is no other way to go when paying for this service. There is simply too much risk in paying an hourly rate for an attorney in this area and the attorneys know this. It’s no wonder that they all offer flat fees. This is what the consumer wants. The flat fee is very uniform across the top attorney sites so your comparison will necessarily be based on non-price factors and these are significant!
The following is a list of the factors that differentiate the virtual trademark attorney offerings. This information is very difficult to glean from the sites themselves, so at the end of this article I provide a link to a very useful chart that compares many of the top sites on most of these considerations. The chart contains information objectively obtained and verified from the websites and is up to date as of the writing of this article.
• Does the attorney include “responding to substantive office actions” in the flat fee?
If the attorney only includes responses to “non-substantive” office actions or otherwise limits the time that he/she will spend on prosecuting your application (there are various tasks involved along the way, such as filing certain kinds of evidence, filing certain required forms and taking other necessary action to keep the application alive and well) then you are not really getting a flat fee, are you? So be sure that these tasks are included in your flat fee.
• Do you get your money back if your trademark search reveals problems and you can’t file for your trademark?
This one shocks many people. You mean I might pay for NOTHING? Indeed you might. There is no guarantee that a trademark search will not reveal that there are prior similar trademarks that will prevent yours from registering. In that case, determine what happens. Some attorneys will simply keep your money, some will charge you only for the search, some will offer a discount on a new search and at least one will give you another full search for free. Also, be sure that the attorney will first run simple “knockout” searches before doing the full trademark search. This is because these are easy and less expensive (to the attorney) to do and it can save you from having to use your fee on the full search. Look for an attorney who will conduct an unlimited number of knockout searches for you. This is rare.
• Does the attorney give you UNLIMITED consultation time?
Simply put, if not, then avoid him/her. As a trademark attorney I know that the process is VERY detailed and often confusing and that it requires much back-and-forth between the attorney and the client to ensure that the application is filed correctly. This is why you look for a flat fee. I often spend several hours on “pre-work” before the application is filed and some of this involves communicating with the client and asking certain questions. This is absolutely not something that can be avoided in some cases.
• How many classes of goods and services are included in the flat fee?
Most attorneys only include one. A few include more than one. The more the better. Often your products or services will cut across multiple classes and you should not have to pay more (even though it requires more work on the part of the attorney). This is simply a fact that the attorney must factor into the flat fee it charges everyone if he/she chooses to charge more, otherwise again, you’re not getting a flat fee are you?
Now that you are a completely educated consumer of trademark services, you can put your money to much better work than before.