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Protect Your Brand: Understanding USA Trademark Application Fees

By Joshua Saltz

Whether you’ve already launched a product or service, or are planning to do so in the future, filing a federal trademark application is an essential step to protecting your brand. Yet a common pain-point new brands have with the trademark application process is understanding the total application cost. In this post, I will explain the key variables that can affect the application cost and provide you with access to an online trademark application fee/cost calculator that I developed for my law firm — Joshua IP.

If you want to jump right to the trademark application fee/cost calculator, visit: https://www.joshua-ip.com/trademarks/trademark-services-pricing/trademark-application-fee-calculator/ 

Application Filing Fees

There are two main components of a trademark application fee:

  1. the government fee; and
  2. the legal fee of the lawyer/law firm

Except in limited circumstances (where the applicant has an identical trademark registration in certain foreign countries), a USA trademark application will either need to be filed based on:

  1. actual use of the mark in commerce; or
  2. the applicant’s “intent to use” the trademark in commerce

The benefit of filing an “intent to use” application prior to actual use is that it secures the applicant’s priority date for the trademark as to any subsequent adopter of a similar trademark that could cause consumer confusion. This is a huge benefit, but it does come with some additional cost. The intent to use application will not register until use is proven for all of the goods/services listed in the application. Additional filings are required for intent to use applications — and there is an additional government fee for such filings and typically an additional legal fee. The total additional cost will depend upon the number of trademark classes your application covers that include an intent to use filing basis and how long it takes you to start use in commerce for all of the goods/services included in your application (because if needed, up to five extensions of time to prove use are available for additional fees).

Government Fee

The amount of the government fee depends on two factors:

  1. how many trademark classes are covered by the application; and
  2. whether you qualify for a reduced government filing fee

        Trademark Classes

A trademark application must list the goods/services that are or will be used in connection with the applied for trademark. Goods and services are categorized into 45 different classes depending on the nature of the goods and services. Classes 1-34 cover various types of goods and classes 35-45 cover various types of services. If you are selling a single product under a trademark, you would likely file an application in a single trademark class. If you are selling multiple different goods/services under a trademark (and wish to include them all in your trademark application), you will need to determine how many different classes the goods/services fall in.

Including multiple goods or multiple services in a trademark application may or may not require filing in multiple trademark classes. It all depends on what class(es) the goods/services fall in. For example, an application that covers cell phones, cell phone cases and eye glasses would only require a single class application — because all of those items fall in Class 9. However, if the application were to also cover jewelry, a two-class application would need to be filed because jewelry falls in Class 14.

The easiest way to determine what class your goods/services fall in is to search the Trademark ID Manual. Below is a screenshot of a search for “t-shirts” in the Trademark ID Manual. You can see that “T-shirts” is listed as an acceptable identification in Class 25. If you are having trouble finding an accurate description in the Trademark ID Manual for your goods/services, try describing the goods/services in a different way.


      Reduced Government Fee vs Standard Government Fee

The government filing fee is currently either $250 or $350 per trademark class.

To qualify for a reduced government filing fee of $250 per class, all of the goods/services listed in the application must be described using pre-approved descriptions from the Trademark ID Manual. An accurate description of most goods/services can be found in the Trademark ID Manual — so most applicants will qualify for the reduced government filing fee. If an applicant wishes to use a free-form description of goods/services that is not included in the Trademark ID Manual, the government fee increases to $350 per class. If you have a multi-class application and one class uses a description from the Trademark ID Manual and the other class uses a free-form description, the higher $350 per class government fee will apply to both classes.

Legal Fee

Prior to filing a trademark application, you want to make sure the mark appears available for registration and use. Trademark availability searching is commonly offered at two levels — preliminary searching and comprehensive searching. Preliminary searching is typically limited in scope whereas comprehensive searches are much broader and take significantly more time to review.

Many law firms charge a flat legal fee to prepare a trademark application. If an application covers more than one trademark class, it is also common to charge an additional fee for the extra classes — especially where the legal fee includes some type of preliminary trademark availability search. The more classes that need to be searched, the more time it will take to perform the search.

Other Fee Factors

  1. If an obstacle is found after a trademark availability search and you wish to modify or change the mark, there may be an additional fee to perform a trademark availability search for the new mark
  2. Beware that some firms charge additional fees after the filing for reporting — such as “Reporting on Publication” or “Reporting on Registration”
  3. If your application receives an Office Action, responding may require paying additional fees
  4. If your application is opposed by a third-party, additional fees will likely be involved if you wish to respond/defend

To try the Joshua IP trademark application fee/cost calculator, visit: https://www.joshua-ip.com/trademarks/trademark-services-pricing/trademark-application-fee-calculator/ 

Joshua Saltz is the Managing Member of Joshua IP, PLLC — a trademark law firm located in Boca Raton, Florida.

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