Finding the right website to register your valuable trademark assets is a daunting task. Trademark registration is just a very confusing topic 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 business owner with trademarks to register will have no idea how to decide which package is the best. The fact of the matter is that there are no choices to make when looking to register your trademark. There is a process and that is the process that anyone offering this service must go through. So if you see “cheap” bargain packages, avoid them like the plague. This will put your trademarks at risk if you don’t do everything necessary to maximize your chances of getting your trademark registered or, worse, not being sued for trademark infringement. The mere fact that someone offers you this option should let you know that they are not knowledgeable on the subject.
Which leads to the next big thing to consider. When you compare trademark registration services online, there are two main categories of websites that you should be aware of. The former are document filing websites or self-help websites. Some of these can be found on a website called comparelegalforms (online-brand-search-registration.html), a website that does not do justice to the consumer of trademark registration services. This is because it does not include any trademark attorney website, the second category of online trademark registration services. The ONLY way to register a trademark is through a trademark attorney. Simply put, any other service MAY 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 on what basis of presentation is appropriate, and respond to substantive issues raised by the USPTO (this is just a short list). I’m not even addressing the serious concerns about unauthorized legal practice surrounding document archiving services.
So now that you know to limit your search to those provided by trademark attorneys, what should you look for on these websites? First, how do you find them? Well, maybe the best search term to use is “flat rate trademarks” or “flat rate trademark attorney.” This is because all the major trademark registration lawyer websites offer flat fees and will advertise it on their websites. There is no other way to go to pay for this service. There is simply too much risk in paying an hourly fee for a lawyer in this area and the lawyers know it. It’s no wonder they all offer flat rates. That is what the consumer wants. The flat fee is very uniform across the major lawyer 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 virtual trademark attorney offerings. This information is very difficult to obtain from the sites themselves, so at the end of this article I provide a link to a very useful graph that compares many of the top sites on most of these considerations. The table contains information obtained and objectively verified from the websites and is current as of the writing date of this article.
• Does the attorney include “responding to substantial actions by the office” in the flat fee?
If the attorney only includes responses to “non-substantive” office actions or limits the time it will spend processing your application (there are various tasks involved along the way, such as presenting certain types of evidence, filing certain required forms, and taking other necessary steps to keep the application alive and well), so you’re not really getting a flat fee, are you? So make sure these tasks are included in your flat fee.
• Will we give you your money back if your trademark search reveals problems and you can’t apply for your trademark?
This one surprises a lot of people. You mean you could pay for NOTHING? In fact, you could. There is no guarantee that a trademark search will not reveal previous similar trademarks that would prevent yours from being registered. In that case, determine what happens. Some attorneys will just keep your money, some will charge you just 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, make sure the attorney performs simple searches first before conducting the full trademark search. This is because they are easy and less expensive (for the attorney) to do and can save you from having to spend your fees on the full search. Look for an attorney who performs an unlimited number of knockout searches. This is rare.
• Does the attorney give you UNLIMITED consultation time?
Simply put, if not, avoid it. As a trademark attorney, I know that the process is VERY detailed and often confusing and requires a lot of discussion between attorney and client to ensure the application is filed correctly. So look for a flat rate. I often spend several hours on “pre-work” before the application is submitted, and part of this involves contacting the client and asking certain questions. This is not at all something that can be avoided in some cases.
• How many kinds of goods and services are included in the flat rate?
Most attorneys only include one. Some include more than one. The more the better. Often times, your products or services will span multiple classes and you shouldn’t have to pay more (although it does require more work on the lawyer’s part). This is simply a fact that the lawyer must take into account in the fixed fee that he charges everyone if he decides to charge more; otherwise you won’t get a flat fee, right?
Now that you are a fully informed consumer of trademark services, you can invest your money in a much better job than before.