Many entrepreneurs have at least one trademark in their company; some have many. Trademarks, once registered, can last forever as long as they continue to be used in the marketplace, and a federal registration protects a trademark throughout the United States. A registration must be renewed at the 5-year mark, the 10-year mark, and then every 10 years after that.
Registered Trademarks are also public information. Any trademark, whether state or federal, can be looked up online. With federal trademarks, the entire history of the trademark can be looked up – every document filed since the beginning.
This gives good trademark lawyers plenty of tools to use, because they can tell you a lot about other people’s marks and not just about your own. But, it also means that other people can look up everything you put in a trademark application, including not only the mark itself but also your name (or company’s name) and address.
Enter the “trademark helpers” industry. There are companies that scour the trademark registry for new trademarks, trademarks coming up for renewal, and trademarks in general, and then offer various services to trademark holders. These services range from “unnecessary” to “questionably legal,” and often look official enough that one might think they’re necessary and be fooled into purchasing them. What do some of these look like?
- Pending Cancellation/Renewal Notices: “Your trademark is due for renewal”
- Registration Notices: “Trademark Publication,” “Register your trademark,” etc.
- International Registration Notices: “We can get your trademark registered abroad.”
The simplest way of telling whether something is official is to look at where it’s from. If it’s from “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, Virginia, it’s real. Otherwise, it’s fake. Many of them try very hard to look official – for example, a bill for renewal of your trademark might come from “Patent and Trademark Office” in Washington D.C. But, there is only one “United States Patent and Trademark Office.”
Any legal trademark “helper” will have, somewhere on their letter, a block of fine print that says (among other things) that they’re not affiliated with the government and purchase is not required. If they are offering to help you renew your trademark, look at the dates on the notice – your trademark may not even be up for renewal for several more years. Better yet, check with an attorney, because they may be able to do it at a lower cost.
On a tangentially-related note: anyone who offers to do a trademark search for less than $500 is probably not getting you comprehensive results. Full trademark searches are expensive. Any online service that charges you less than $1000 to help you register a trademark is probably only charging you for the initial application, and will likely charge you additional fees along the way to complete the work.
So, as you can see, interesting things can come of being a Trademark owner, and having a good Trademark lawyer will help you navigate situations that can arise. Argent Place Law seeks to meet you at your needs – if you need help filing for a trademark or dealing with the USPTO’s response to an application, we can help you with that; if you would rather learn how to apply for trademarks for yourself, we have regular workshops to help you with that as well.
Entrepreneurs are going to save the world, and Argent Place Law wants to help. That’s why we are a team of entrepreneur-lawyers serving Entrepreneurs just like you. Think how great it will be to have a legal team with entrepreneurial experience on your speed dial so you can call us up and say, “I’m applying for a trademark, what do I need to prepare?” Call Argent Place Law to find out.