What is the trademark application process?

The USPTO trademark application process is not as complicated as the patenting process. If certain steps are done promptly and correctly, a trademark application can mature into a registration in a matter of 7 to 12 months. Let’s dive into the various steps and costs for registering a trademark. It may help to think of the trademark application in the following stages:

  1. Pre-filing: What steps should you take before filing a trademark application?
  2. Filing and prosecuting a trademark application
  3. Registration and renewals (post-registration maintenance)

How much does a trademark application cost?

$900 per class is our initial filing cost for a federal trademark application, including our $550 flat rate and the $350 USPTO filing fee. Our initial filing cost does not include a knockout search which can be performed at an additional cost of $500 per class.

Several additional trademark services and events may potentially lead to further legal costs. To control trademark application costs, focus on the following factors:

  1. number of classes of goods and services;
  2. filing basis (whether based on actual use of the trademark or an Intent-To-Use); and
  3. the number of Office Actions from the USPTO, if any, and the type of rejections or requests therein.

Classes of goods and services

The number of classes and the filing basis can be determined upfront. It is possible to file for several items while keeping costs down if those items fall under the same class. Our firm provides flat attorney’s fees for filing trademark applications.

Intent-To-Use (ITU) vs. use-based

If the application is based on an Intent-To-Use, there will be an additional cost of $500 per class to file the Statement of Use (or Amendment to Allege Use as the case may be). You can also request a 6-month extension of time at a cost of $500 for each extension request.

Trademark rejections: the unpredictable and potentially large expense

What can be unpredictable and expensive is the possibility of a trademark rejection by the USPTO trademark examiner (“examining attorney”). The ideal situation would be sail through the trademark application process without any Office Actions. If there are no Office Action rejections, the total cost of a trademark application with a single class of goods/services from initial filing to registration would be $900 per class for a use-based application. For an Intent-To-Use application, the total cost would be $1,400 per class if no extensions of time are requested for filing use evidence.

Costs of responding to a trademark Office Action range widely. For a simple non-substantive Office Action, our firm currently charges a $295 flat rate. For refusals based on likelihood of confusion or mere descriptiveness, our fee would be approximately $2,800 for dealing with each type of refusal.

Pre-filing considerations: How to reduce trademark application costs and delays

The most practical way to reduce trademark registration costs is to minimize the probability of rejections. Two of the most common rejections comprise likelihood of confusion (your mark is too similar to another trademark filing) and the mere descriptive refusal (your mark describes a quality, characteristic or feature of your identified goods/services).

To reduce the risk of a likelihood of confusion refusal, consider a knockout trademark search prior to filing your trademark application. Knowing the existence of similar marks previously filed by others can help you recognize obvious landmines before applying for the mark. Such searches often lead to additional brainstorming of new marks which may be less risky than the original mark. Our firm’s trademark filing package includes a knockout search at no additional cost.

Experienced trademark attorneys can also provide guidance on the potential of a merely descriptive rejection. The issue is not how common the words are, but the meaning of the words in your mark in relation to your goods or services.

Trademark application process from start to finish

Initial filing of trademark application

Several important decisions need to made before filing a trademark application. Will you apply for the word mark or design mark? If you file for a design mark such as a stylized logo, should you file in black-and-white or color? Will the filing basis be Intent-To-Use, actual use or a foreign registration? What are the goods or services? Should any generic words be disclaimed? Do you own any registrations of similar marks? Will the US application claim priority to a foreign application for the same mark?

Trademark Office Actions

After the initial filing, it takes about 3-6 months for a USPTO examining attorney to review the application. If the examining attorney rejects the application or has any questions or requests, an Office Action will be issued giving the applicant a non-extendable 6-month period to respond.

Mark Published for Opposition

If there are no rejections or any prior objections have been fully resolved, the mark will be published for opposition. The applicant will receive a Notice of Publication identifying the starting date for the 30-day window during which any member of the public may oppose the registration of the mark. If there are no oppositions, then the USPTO will issue either the certificate of registration (for marks where evidence of use has already been submitted) or a Notice of Allowance for ITU applications.

Notice of Allowance (ITU only)

A Notice of Allowance provides the applicant with a 6-month timeframe to submit the Statement of Use. If additional is required, the applicant may request further extensions of time in 6-month increments for a maximum total of three years from the Notice of Allowance date.

Certificate of Registration

You may place the circle R symbol only after the certificate of registration has been issued. Renewal deadlines are generally at the 6-year anniversary of the registration date, the 10-year anniversary, and every ten years thereafter. Unlike patents, trademark registrations can continue indefinitely as long as the owner continues using the mark on the goods or services identified in the registration.

The USPTO has provided helpful trademark application timeline here.

How long does the trademark registration process take?

If you file a use-based application, then the shortest length of time to receive a registration would be approximately 7-12 months, assuming no Office Actions and no oppositions. For an Intent-To-Use application, tack on the additional time required to make use of the mark on the goods/services and submit a proper Statement of Use with acceptable specimens.

What should you do after your trademark is registered?

Only now can you use the circle R symbol. Calendar the trademark registration renewal deadlines or make sure your IP attorney will remind you of these deadlines.

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Vic Lin

Startup Patent Attorney | IP Lead Partner at Innovation Capital Law Group
We align ourselves with Davids fighting Goliaths. Our registered patent attorneys work as a team to equip startups and founders with solid IP rights that facilitate funding, growth and sales. Email or call us so we can get to work on your IP: (949) 223-9623 | vlin@icaplaw.com