There are several online trademark services that focus on churning out clients and trademark applications with little regard of whether or not the applications are successful.
I usually avoid talking in the first person and talking directly about personal experience as a trademark attorney, but this blog will be a little different. One of the reasons I created Granite Trademark Services was because I noticed a large gap between the online “trademark mills” and the high cost, big city trademark lawyers. This blog focuses on some of the issues I saw with the trademark mills.
The short version of the trademark mills business model is to get as many clients as possible, file as many trademark applications as possible, and then move onto the next one. Many of the trademark mills do not do trademark searches before filing, provide little assistance (if any) in the event an issue arises, and place their business needs over the goals of their clients.
Quantity of Filings Over Quality of Filings
One of the issues with the online trademark mills is that their business model emphasizes filing as many trademark applications as possible regardless of whether those applications will be successful or not. When they charge as little as $69 to file a trademark application they need to keep filing trademark application after application while doing as little work as possible.
The trademark mills prices are so low, in part, because they focus on filing hundreds of trademark applications without caring whether any of the trademarks actually become registered. In other words, they are more worried about the quantity of the applications they file than the quality of the applications they file.
Trademark mills will take money to file a trademark application without doing the necessary research before filing such as conducting a trademark search or confirming the trademark can actually be registered, e.g. it is not generic, descriptive, primarily a surname etc…
When a client hires a trademark mill to file their application for $69 plus the government fees, and the application fails because there is already a registered trademark with the same name or the trademark is not distinctive, the client is left with a choice of hiring a trademark lawyer and investing more into the application that may not succeed, or chalking up their original investment as a loss.
Different Levels of Service
Another common business practice of the trademark mills is to offer different levels of services, at different prices, for filing a trademark application. For instance, to file a trademark application may cost $69, to conduct a trademark search and file a trademark application may cost $150, and to file a trademark application and follow it through, e.g. respond to Office Actions may cost $250.
Any attorney who files a trademark application without doing a trademark search is borderline committing malpractice. In my past practice, one trademark attorney from a trademark mill filed nearly a dozen trademark applications that one of my clients opposed every time they were published for opposition. All the applications included my client’s famous trademark and were filed in the same exact industry as my client. When I would reach out to the attorney after the oppositions were filed, he said he was not handling that aspect of the trademark application, essentially leaving his clients high and dry after already getting paid.
In sum, trademark mills that offer to file trademark applications without doing trademark searches or responding to Office Actions, leave clients with hundreds of dollars invested in a trademark application that has no shot to ever be registered.
Confused Clients Left Wondering What they Paid For
The biggest issue with many of the trademark mills is that they will take money to file a trademark application and then they are out. In other words, once they take money, file the application, they take no responsibility if the application receives an Office Action or is opposed by a third party.
Clients of trademark mills are often surprised when an issue arises after the trademark application is filed that the trademark mill does not handle the issue. For example, if the trademark application receives an Office Action for an improper specimen, the trademark mill will not help the client address the issue. The client often then wonders what they even paid for if the trademark mill is not going to follow the application through to registration.
Have you been left high and dry by a trademark mill? Or looking for an honest trademark attorney to file a trademark application for you? Contact us today for a free trademark consultation.