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Can I DIY a trademark registration?

In most cases*, it’s an option.

Some of the basic steps of filing for a trademark are simple enough, in theory. It’s important to get your filing correct the first time, however, as some information you may not be able to change once you’ve filed. For example, if you file your trademark application in the wrong class, you may not be able to change your class registration without a new application. Right there, you’re out hundreds of dollars per filing class.

OK, so maybe I want just a little help without full price attorney fees. How about one of those online filing services, like Trademark Engine?

At some point in your trademark research you probably saw a filing service like Trademark Engine and thought, is this a solid option? In my personal opinion, no, but it would be fair to say I’m biased so I’ll run through what Trademark Engine offers .

First, Trademark Engine is littered with this disclaimer: "Trademark Engine provides information and software only. Trademark Engine is not a 'lawyer referral service' and does not provide legal advice or participate in any legal representation." But, you don’t necessarily want a lawyer at this point, this is fair enough. Let’s take a look at their Basic Package:

  • "Direct-hit Search: Direct-hit search of the federal USPTO database which will include exact matches for live and pending applications."

This is your basic TESS search, if you would like a direct-hit search, go to this website and type in your mark. This search engine is run by the USPTO and completely free.

  • "Federal E-Filing with USPTO: Electronic filing of your application with the USPTO with no need to wait for mail or dealing with paper files."

US trademark applications are filed through an online system, you are not even allowed to file a paper application. This site, provided for free through the USPTO, will walk you through filing a trademark.

  • "Digitalization and Formatting of your trademark specimens and designs."

Trademark specimens and Logo submissions are required to be in specific file formats. This is just the file format, Trademark Engine is not going to tell you if you have chosen a specimen that will be rejected by the USPTO. If your specimen is rejected by the USPTO, you should be able to file a new one with an Office Action Response at no additional USPTO fee.

  • "Electronic Delivery of your trademark application with no need to wait for mail or dealing with paper files. This will qualify you for the reduced government filing fee."

Again, there is no other option for filing your trademark application.

  • "Secure Online Account with calendar of important dates. Your status, documents, and important deadlines will be available to you 24/7 through your online account." will let you set up a Trademark docket for free to monitor your trademark application. Further, TEAS will send you email notifications for your filing throughout the process.

  • "1 Month of Trademark Monitoring service to notify you of possible infringers of your trademark."

Trademark Monitoring services are available through various companies these days. And as a legal practitioner, these services are pretty cool. Many of these services monitor your trademark for any time the USPTO cites your mark against someone else’s application. I currently use a trademark docketing software that offers me the option to provide monitoring for my clients. As a note to any other IP lawyers, I use Alt Legal, and I absolutely love their software. Trademark monitoring services are certainly something to consider adding to your brand protection arsenal.

The wrap-up.

If you want to DIY your trademark application, then, D.I.Y. it. The USPTO offers a lot of public advice and filing services FOR FREE. But, don’t worry about me writing myself out of a job here, the trademark process can be confusing and time-consuming. If you don’t want to deal with that, there’s nothing wrong with hiring an attorney.

Trademark filing services like Trademark Engine will not help you choose what type of Application to file ( you should try to use TEAS Plus in almost all situations), they will not help you choose your filing class, and they will not stop you from incorrectly filling out your application (In fact, they may even be legally required not to do these things*). If you have chosen to use a filing service like Trademark Engine and now you have an Office Action that you’re unsure how to respond to, do not hesitate to contact our office. You are not the first client we’ve helped post-Trademark Engine, and you probably won’t be the last.


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