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Sometimes, people ask why my firm’s fee for trademark protection is so much more than LegalZoom. It is a little technical, but I will try my best to explain what’s different about working with a live attorney vs an inexpensive website.
Step 1: Searching/Clearing a mark for use
My trademark services are very different from LegalZoom. LegalZoom provides a “knockout” search to see if your mark is available on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website; if no direct matches are shown, they file your application for you. In contrast, we search not only exact matches on the USPTO site, but also of other marks.
Our clearance searches are comprehensive. We look for marks that are similar phonetically or in meaning for similar goods/services, as well as an extensive “common law” search that reveals prior users who have registered business, websites, or social media pages, prior to the date of the search. We work side by side with clients to analyze search results, research the description of goods and services, and represent them throughout the USPTO process. Sometimes, this includes Office Actions, up to the point of registration. We also monitor marks at no cost for one year following registration. If there are problematic results, we work with you to decide when and whether to take action against potential infringers.
Step 2: Applying
According a recent conversation with a trademark specialist at LegalZoom, their Comprehensive Trademark Search is $250 in addition to their $219 package, plus filing fees, for which it looks like they’re charging $275. I use descriptions that the PTO has already accepted, which you can find in the Goods and Service ID Manual. Application fees are $225 if you apply that way, and your application has a better chance of going through with no problems if you use descriptions they’ve pre-approved. So with LegalZoom you’re looking at $700ish at the outset. Then, if you need to respond to Office Actions, or to prior users, you would need to engage a law firm or figure it out on your own. LegalZoom apparently also offers “Attorney Led” trademark services beginning at $874.
I used to offer a very inexpensive package, which only did a “knockout” search, and helped clients apply after doing so. I discontinued that, because I do not feel it serves clients well to start using or applying for a mark without knowing the whole landscape of prior users.
If you do go the LegalZoom route, I would strongly encourage you to at least get an “Attorney Led” package. Common law users can really come back to bite you if you do not thoroughly search before applying. I could talk for hours about clients who come crying to me and need to rebrand after using their mark for several years, because they used LegalZoom or a similar service to apply and assumed it would be fine.
I’m doing a “Top Trademark Myths” class next week, which you might find informative regardless of which route you take. Working with my firm is definitely not the least expensive route to get a trademark filed. Rarely has a client complained that we didn’t do a thorough enough job, or that they did not understand the process. I have been practicing for 20 years. I work really hard to make sure that clients understand the risks before choosing a mark, rather than blindly filing and hoping for the best.
Hopefully, that explains the difference.