Many startup companies try to save cost by using self-help legal websites to file their trademark. This may seem like a simple way to save in legal fees, but be aware there are at least three key benefits to hiring an attorney to help you work with the agency, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Benefit one is there are pitfalls to Trademarks that are not easy to see ahead. For example, an author wanted to trademark a generic term that used a play on words to represent she was a children’s author. When the term she wanted was already registered she had a dilemma. She had already created a marketing campaign, website, and products to promote her books with this name. Many clients wind up spending more money to pay an attorney to fix the application, or to re-file the application, than it would have cost to hire an experienced trademark attorney to file the application for them from the start.
Secondly, if the trademark owner does not protect their trademark, they may open themselves up to the danger of an inferior quality good or service being distributed under the same or similar name. This may cause confusion in the marketplace, as consumers look to buy your product or service. So, it is not only important for the trademark owner to seek protection for their trademarks, but it is exceedingly important for the trademark owner to file the application properly. The safest bet is to hire an attorney familiar with trademark prosecution to handle protecting your trademark assets, by calling a trademark attorney. Of course, this means paying a legal fee, but I believe the legal fees involved in having an experienced attorney prepare, file and prosecute a trademark application pale in comparison to the cost of not having a properly protected trademark. As noted above, this post is prompted by the recent increase I have encountered in having to fix, or sometimes re-file, trademark applications that have either been filed by the trademark owners themselves, by attorneys that do not specialize in trademark prosecution, or using self-help legal websites that purport to file trademark applications for the trademark owner.
The third important benefit in hiring a Trademark Attorney to file your trademark relates to benefits to your business. The rules and regulations governing trademark applications are very specific, but some of the language in the rules is not easily understood by those without training. For example, a trademark is not eligible for registration on the Principal Register if it has not been used in interstate commerce. An attorney may recommend you use your trademark in more than one state, before filing, if possible. You want to avoid filing for a trademark with little or no rights attached, which is a nightmare scenario. An improperly filed application could be subject to cancellation, and is likely not to be enforceable. The moral of the story is that hiring an attorney to file a trademark application is not overly expensive, and is a good way to ensure that your trademark is properly filed and prosecuted. The investment in business cards, letterhead, advertisements, signs, brochures and more could all be lost, so filing a trademark application yourself and saving a few hundred dollars may well cost you thousands of dollars down the road. Avoid these pitfalls by calling a skilled lawyer today.