Hi, I'm Andrei Mincov, and in this video, I'll walk you through the pros and cons of filing your trademarks by yourself. There are thousands of websites, law firms, attorneys, trademark agents who promise to help you trademark your brands.
But essentially, there are just 4 radically different ways to do it. You can use an online trademark filing service. You can use traditional law firms and attorneys. You can go with the company I founded, Trademark Factory®; Or you can file your trademarks yourself. And in this video, I'm going to explain the benefits and dangers of brand owners filing their own trademarks by themselves. I'm also recording videos about the benefits and dangers of online trademark filing services and traditional law firms and attorneys. Make sure you watch them as well.
So let's go through the pros and cons of filing your own trademarks. Typically, anyone is legally allowed to file their own trademarks.
However, you may only file U.S. trademarks yourself if you or your company are a U.S. resident. Otherwise, you must be represented by a U.S. attorney. Trademarking usually takes around a year or more from filing to registration. During that time, the Trademarks Office will issue at least one office action against two out of every three applications. This refusal rate is even higher for applications filed by unrepresented brand owners.
If your DIY trademark application is refused, you would either need to pay a professional to fix it or handle all office actions, objections and refusals yourself. This is a viable option only for those business owners who are prepared to spend the time to thoroughly study trademark law and the trademarking process. So really, the only advantage to filing your own trademarks is that it is very cheap. You are not paying anyone for their services. You're only paying government fees. However, there are a bunch of disadvantages:
Disadvantage #1: Government online forms are notoriously confusing.
They span screen after screen with a ton of confusing messages and options. It's very easy to make mistakes you can’t fix later on. For example, if you are filing a trademark in the U.S. and you have no idea about the difference between filing your mark on the basis of 1(a) or 1(b), you shouldn't be filing your own trademark application yourself. If you have no idea about whether you should be claiming color as a feature of your mark, you shouldn't be filing your own trademark application. If you have no idea about how to respond to possible office actions issued against your trademark application, you shouldn't be filing your own trademark application.
Disadvantage #2: You must be a U.S. resident to file U.S. trademarks without an attorney. This is pretty simple. If you're not a U.S. resident and you need to get a U.S. trademark, you can't do it yourself. Case closed.
Disadvantage #3: Over 80% of DIY applications get rejected. I mean, if you don't care about the end result and just want to test your ability to weather the process, by all means, give it a go. But if your goal is to securely protect your brand, doing it by yourself with no prior experience is really a bad idea.
Disadvantage #4: Responding to office actions is costly or time-consuming. Often, it is both. Filing your trademark application is just the first step in the process. The real work begins after the Trademarks Office reviews your application in a few months. And did you know that the Trademarks Office will issue at least one office action for 68% of all filed trademark applications? It means that in 68% of the cases, you will need to:
Hire an attorney to fix a poorly written application for $300–$500/hr. (if it’s even at all possible at that stage); Respond to the office action yourself (again, assuming it is still possible at that stage and assuming you can do it); or let your trademark application die. And guess what? Attorneys can easily bill you for over 10 or even 20 hours of their time to respond to office actions about descriptiveness and the likelihood of confusion. They don't do it because they're mean and greedy. They do it because these are the most complex types of office actions to respond to. The chances you're going to be able to successfully overcome these objections yourself are slim to none.
Disadvantage #5: No guarantee of success. If your self-filed trademark application fails you have only one person to blame, yourself. The government will not refund you the government fees either.
#Disadvantage #6: You are supposed to do all the work. If you are building a real business, as opposed to a hobby, you know you shouldn't do everything yourself. Your time is best spent doing what only you can do, while you delegate other work to others. Yes, in the best-case scenario, you will save your business a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars. But don't forget: your time is not worthless either. The hours you spend learning how to do trademarking, you're not spending on growing your business.
So as a summary: when you file your trademark application yourself, you are on your own. Nobody's helping you. You don't get anyone helping you ensure your trademark covers you as your business grows. You don't get anyone helping you evaluate the chances of your trademark before it gets filed. When your application is rejected, you're on your own. Do not expect any refunds. But yes, there is a small chance that your application with going through without any issues. And if that's the case, you're going to save some money on legal fees. But instead, you are going to spend your time, which is usually better spent on things only you as a business owner can do. By way of comparison, Trademark Factory® makes your life simple. Every single step of the trademarking process is handled by experienced attorneys and trademark agents. ONE flat fee covers the entire trademarking process, from filing to registration, and provides insurance for ALL office actions. Trademark Factory® gives you the certainty of knowing your trademarking budget upfront, no matter how many objections are raised against your application. No hidden costs and no billable hours. You pay once and never see another invoice. Everything is covered by a 100% money-back guarantee. Your trademark is approved—or you get a FULL refund. And yes, we have a 99.3% rate of success. This is the best option for business owners who are serious about their brands and who want to know exactly how much the entire process will cost before they get started.
This is also the best option for business owners looking for insurance in the form of a full refund in case the trademark application is refused. Having said that, our flat fee may seem too high for those whose business is more of a hobby than a serious endeavor. Also, we've discovered that large corporations may prefer their trademarks to be handled by an in-house legal team or a full-scope law firm—because the advantages we offer as a firm that focuses on trademarking and nothing else may be less important if you are already spending high 5 or even 6 figures on lawyers. But if you are a startup, an entrepreneur, or a small business and you want to get your trademarks done right, we could be a good fit for you. Simply follow the link in the description of this video—and see for yourself. And until then, I'll see you in the next video.