We are a small software startup based in Portland. Before we launch our product, we want to register the product name as a trademark. Is there an easy and fast process for registering the trademark? What is the cost?
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I would suggest you start with the tutorials on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-getting-started/trademark-basics and then you can decide if you want to prepare and file one or more applications on your own or if you want to consult with a trademark attorney. Working with a trademark or IP attorney is strongly recommended for a start-up for many reasons, including reasons beyond merely registering your mark or marks, and I am not just saying that because I am a trademark attorney.
The cost is a minimum $225 per class of goods/service filing fee to the USPTO and the fastest the USPTO will be to register a mark is probably around 7 to 9 months but that assumes you file everything correctly (which a trademark attorney would do) and that you are using the mark because a U.S. applicant cannot register a mark until it is using it in U.S. Commerce. The meaning of "use" is a legal term of art and understanding this legal concept is another reason to work with a trademark attorney. Probably the single most important reason to consult with a trademark attorney is to conduct a clearance search on the mark to ensure it's availability and assess the risk of proceeding with that mark. Working with a trademark attorney might make the process cost around a few thousand dollars, depending upon what you want done and how many marks are involved, but could be well worth it considering the costs you might incur if you adopt a mark that is not available; you make an error in the application that is not correctable; or you obtain a registration that does not properly cover your mark or your goods as the mark is actually used in U.S. Commerce.
I strongly recommend a trademark professional to help you with this process, as I have seen on many occasions trademarks that have not been filed correctly. This may put you in a scenario were you receive an office action, making you spend even more time and money than what you would have if you would have started with a professional. I will be happy to help and answer any other questions you may have.
I can't stress enough getting proper legal trademark advice upfront. As Alexander suggested, if you are willing to spend the time to learn as much as you can on your own starting with the USPTO's helpful self filing guides, that is one way. Hiring an attorney is better.
I know people that have spent +$10k on a Mark that is still unregistered, have been opposed, and threatened lawsuit. They used legal zoom and put the mark on their products thinking how cheap and easy and everything was great. You really do not want to spend time and money on a mark that you can't use, or will be sued for infringement.
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