How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Business Name?

By Lee Hall, J.D.

How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Business Name?

By Lee Hall, J.D.

The owner of a new or established business might ask if it's worth the time and money to register a trademark for the business name. Is state or federal trademark protection necessary? What are the benefits? But the threshold question, especially for the solo or small business owner, involves the cost of registration.

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Using a Name to Establish Rights

 

Trademark, in essence, costs nothing. Creating a unique name and using it publicly is the way most business owners establish their rights to the name. If a conflict with another business arises, your continual use of the name over a span of time will determine when you created rights in the name.

Why, then, does any business take the time and pay the fees to register a name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)?

While applying for a trademark is not a method of creating rights in a name, the registration of your trademark does provide a visible notice of your claim of ownership. The registration also provides a basis for enforcing rights to the name in court.

Searching for a Name in the Federal Database for Free

No matter how you choose to proceed, put the internet search engines to use and be sure to run a search through the USPTO database. A comprehensive trademark search also includes the state databases.

Why take the time to run searches for your business name? You must learn whether anyone else is already using the name you wish to claim. This can prevent the costs of having to change your brand later or having to deal with a legal action from another user of the name.

If your search of registered marks unearths a trademark that may conflict with your own, proceed to check the status of the other party's mark. Is the application or registration live? An unused or "dead" trademark won't prevent you from legally claiming the name.

Paying State and Federal Registration Costs

A business may file for trademark registration solely at the state level. State trademark registration is normally cheaper than the federal process. You might be able to register for only $150 or so. Don't forget to allow for your renewal costs later. Gain a familiarity with all the information supplied by your state trademark office.

Most businesses today concern interstate commerce, so federal registration is typically the best level of protection for a mark. Registration fees can change, but expect to spend a few hundred dollars. Find the current fees on the USPTO fee chart.

Again, don't forget that you'll pay trademark maintenance costs to keep your registration alive.

Trademark Registration Assistance

 

Are you sure you conducted a thorough name search? Are you prepared to offer a sound statement identifying and classifying what your business produces? If the USPTO declines to register your mark, what should you do? USPTO employees may not offer you any legal advice.

A private trademark attorney, who must be licensed in the United States, can advise you.

Your trademark attorney can help you file maintenance documents over the years. And if someone challenges your right to use your business name, an attorney can represent you before the USPTO's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

As for the price, the assistance of a trademark attorney can easily represent initial legal costs of $1,500 or more.

If you believe you may qualify for free or low-cost attorney services, you might explore the American Bar Association's state-by-state directory of pro bono resources.

Getting Affordable Assistance

Don't know where to (or have time to) start? You can seek assistance from an online service provider for registering for your intellectual property rights to a name, slogan, or symbol that identifies your brand.

Protecting your business name is an investment in your brand. A registered trademark supplies you with the tools you need to enforce your rights.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.