When evaluating whether filing a trademark application is worth filing, it is helpful for businesses and entrepreneurs to know what the total cost is to file a trademark application and have the trademark become a registration.
Trademark attorneys, and lawyers in general, often frustrate their business clients by being unable to tell them the legal costs of anything upfront. In trademark law, this should not be a big issue when it comes to certain trademark services.
The most obvious service a trademark lawyer can provide for a flat fee is filing a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). However, they can also file responses to Office Actions or trademark maintenance and renewal documents with the USPTO, conducting trademark clearance searches, or drafting form cease and desist letters.
Trademark attorneys who offer flat fee trademark services provide clients with comfort that they know what they are getting into when hiring the attorney and will not be surprised by future bills from their trademark lawyer.
Hourly Rates vs. Flat Fee
There are two general ways trademark attorneys bill their clients. One is by charging an hourly rate, while the other is charging upfront, flat fee rates.
When an attorney charges by the hour, they get paid based on how much work they do for their client. For example, an attorney who charges $100 per hour that spends ten hours on a project for their client will charge the client $1,000 (plus any other fees such as government fees or printing fees).
Conversely, trademark lawyers that charge flat fees will charge a one time, upfront fee for a project. So if the attorney spends 10 hours on the project or 20 hours on the project the amount the attorney charges the client will not change.
Business Reasons for Hiring Flat Fee Trademark Law Firms
Hiring trademark lawyers to perform legal services without knowing the costs upfront can leave businesses in the dark about how much the work will actually cost them. For example, a small business that hires an hourly trademark attorney to file a trademark application may be surprised when their final bill comes because the trademark attorney needed to spend more time than normal on their trademark application for whatever reason.
When a business or entrepreneur hires a trademark attorney to file a trademark application with the USPTO, they can confidently put in their books how much their trademark application will cost. This allows them to spend other money on things such as marketing or hiring a new employee rather than saving some money in the event the trademark application process becomes much more expensive than initially thought.
For example, some trademark applications take attorneys more time because the search results are complicated, an Office Action issues, a new trademark needs to be selected based on the search results or more. In cases where everything that could go wrong does go wrong, the cost of filing a trademark application with trademark attorney that charges hourly can increase rapidly.
What does the Flat Fee Include?
Something trademark owners need to be very aware of when hiring a flat fee trademark lawyer is what are they actually paying for. For example, when filing a trademark application, some flat fee trademark attorneys only file the application but will respond to only some Office Actions while other attorneys will not respond to any Office Actions. In addition, some attorneys will file the application without doing necessary prep work, such as conducting a trademark clearance search.
If a trademark attorney does not include things such as trademark searches, and responding to any and all Office Actions, trademark clients may be stuck with the dilemma of investing more into their trademark application than they planned or abandoning their trademark application, and all the money they invested in it. In general, it is best to avoid online trademark mills that offer multiple "tiers" of services for filing a trademark application.
Saving money upfront is appealing, but could lead to surprise bills in the future!
The best practice is to hire a trademark attorney or an online trademark lawyer who does all the necessary prep work and will respond to any and all trademark applications rather than skimping to save money. In the end, you may end up spending more or failing to register the trademark and losing all the money invested in the application.
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