Registering a US federal trademark yourself will likely cost between $250 and $2,000. You can choose to file the trademark application yourself (costing $250 per class of products or services) or hire a trademark attorney to guide you through the process (costing up to $2,000). If you are domiciled within the US or its territories, you are not required to hire an attorney (though it’s still a good idea).
Besides which method you use, the main factors that will impact trademark cost include:
- Number of trademarks that are actually part of your “trademark”
- Number of classes, or business categories, you intend on trademarking in
- Extensiveness of clearance searches
- Varying application fees
- Trademark drawings and specimens
- Renewals and declarations
- Complications in the trademark process
Trademark Registration Cost Summary
Here’s a summary of the costs and activities associated with each method:
Filing Using a Lawyer
Overall cost: $250–$350
Overall cost: Up to $2,000
Trademarks vs Patents
A trademark is generally “a word, phrase, slogan, symbol, or design, or combination thereof, that identifies the source of your goods and services and distinguishes them from the goods and services of another party. That is, a trademark lets consumers know that the goods or services come only from you and not from someone else.”
A patent, on the other hand, is used for an invention or a copyright that covers original content.
Trademarks and patents are distinct from each other, and incur different costs. Check out our patent cost guide.
Below we’ll go into detail of each of these methods of applying for a trademark, and the related cost factors.
Costs When Filing a Trademark Yourself
Regardless of which method you use to register your trademark, you will have to pay U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees. So, it’s a good idea to understand the related factors that might affect the cost of registering your trademark.
Before filing, you should do a trademark search for conflicts; this is called a clearance search. You can do this using the USPTO’s free tool called the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Or, you can hire an attorney to conduct this search for you; expect to pay up to $2,000 for a trademark attorney’s services, which will also include other kinds of assistance besides clearance searches.
The trademark registration cost will be between $250 and $350 when you file electronically through the USPTO online system: the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).
You can choose to apply via either TEAS Plus or TEAS Standard.
- TEAS Plus has a lower filing fee ($250 per class of goods or services), but more requirements to fulfill. If you want to file your application using TEAS Plus, the goods or services you are offering must be listed in the USPTO Trademark ID Manual. This manual lists acceptable identifications or definitions of goods and services.
- TEAS Standard has a higher filing fee ($350 per class of goods or services) but is suitable if the goods or services you offer are not contained within the Trademark ID Manual.
Take note that the application fee increases to $500 if you apply using Section 66(a). This is used for foreign registrations and is based on the Madrid Protocol.
The USPTO accepts the following payment methods (must be in US dollars):
- Online payments (preferred) such as deposit account payments or electronic funds transfer (EFT) via Automated Clearing House
- Money orders
- Credit and debit cards
- Wire transfers
- Payment by fax or mail
A “Class” in the context of trademarks refers to a list of international goods and services areas managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Think of different kinds of chemicals (for motor fuel, household cleaning, medicine, cooking, etc.) as an example. So if Tesla wants to trademark its name in both the automobile industry and the solar roofing supply industry they must file two separate trademarks applications. If you want to apply your trademark in multiple, potentially adjacent industries, this will drive up your costs. You can see WIPO’s class list for more information.
Drawings & Specimens
Business names and related logos are the most common type of trademark that small businesses apply for. Part of the application process involves drawings and specimens of these business names and logos, and submitting them for approval. Drawing and specimens are two distinct things.
- A drawing is a depiction of the trademark, such as a name or logo, that you want to register. It simply shows what the trademark is and how it looks.
- A specimen shows how you actually intend to use your trademark in a commerce context, in combination with the goods and services you plan to sell under the trademark. A specimen is often submitted as a photograph of your logo on a label or tag attached to your product. For an ecommerce business, the specimen could also be a screenshot of the business name or logo on your business website.
In both cases, customers must ultimately associate your trademark with your products and services.
Another distinction to consider when creating your trademark drawing is standard characters vs special forms:
- A standard character drawing shows a mark in text only (without a visual design) in no particular font style, size, or color.
- A special form drawing shows a mark with stylization, designs, graphics, logos, or color. These are also called “stylized marks” or “design marks.”
A standard character drawing protects against all text use of your trademark. So the standard character trademark of “Google” protects Google from infringement regardless of font, color, context, etc. A special form trademark of the familiar Google logo alone does not protect them from someone simply using the word “Google” in their business or product text.
So, most businesses will trademark both the text version of their name and the visual use of the name separately—thus driving up the cost of the trademark application.
Additional Trademark Fees & Costs
In addition to the initial trademark registration fees, there are fees for continued use:
- Declaration of Use after five years: $225 per class (if filed before the grace period)
- Declaration of Incontestability: $200 per class
- Declaration of Use after five years plus Declaration of Incontestability: $425 per class (if filed before the grace period)
- Declaration of Use and Application for Renewal every 10 years: $525 per class (if filed before the grace period)
These additional fees are mandatory for continued use, and are part of the long-term cost of having a trademark. Any enforcement of trademarks would also be additional and separate costs of having a trademark.
Note that at around the five-year mark of your trademark getting registered, you will need to file additional paperwork (and pay additional costs) with the USPTO. This is called a Section 8 Declaration, and is used to prove either that your trademark is still in use, or that there are special circumstances that excuse the trademark no longer being in use. The filing window for this declaration includes a grace period of up to six months after the due date. Expect to pay between $100 and $225 for this paperwork.
Ten years down the line (and every additional 10 years thereafter), you will need to file a Section 9 Declaration—which is basically just a written request to keep your registration active—in addition to the Section 8 one. A combined Section 8 and 9 filing will cost you between $525 and $725 per class.
Once you pay the fees for a trademark (or patent) application, you generally cannot get a refund. In a few circumstances, refunds may be permitted. These circumstances include:
- Duplicate payments
- Payment when no fee was required
- Office error
If you intend to apply for a refund, you’ll need to fill in a Request for Refund form and provide supporting documentation.
Trademark Information by State
If you want to apply for a trademark at the state level, you’ll need to do so at the trademark office of the state in which you are seeking protection (which may not be the state you’re based). The USPTO provides this list of URLs for more information per state:
District of Columbia (District’s trade name registry; use of a mark solely within the District of Columbia qualifies for federal registration. There is no D.C. trademark law.)
Puerto Rico (English and Spanish)
Costs When Using a Trademark Lawyer
The cost of using a trademark lawyer for your application can range from a flat rate of $500 to tens of thousands of dollars, with the typical cost being between $1,500 and $2,000. Generally, the more complicated and extensive the process, the more you should expect to pay the trademark lawyer. You need to understand the main drivers that affect the total cost, how to minimize the risk of the cost moving towards the high end of the range, and what you’ll be getting for the money you pay.
What You Get From Using a Trademark Lawyer
An experienced trademark lawyer can:
- Give you feedback on your trademark approach
- Conduct extensive clearance searches
- Help you select an appropriate specimen
- Help you complete and submit your application
- Respond to and coordinate with a USPTO trademark examining attorney
- Instruct you on defending and enforcing your trademark
- Keep up with maintenance requirements and documentation
- Address any complications during the application process
According to a 2013 study at the University of North Carolina Law School, the presence and advice of a trademark lawyer during the application process can make a significant difference in many cases—though the effect is not uniform. Based on their experience, a trademark lawyer can give you real-world guidance on the business name, logo, or other trademark to make sure it passes USPTO on the first attempt.
The USPTO application procedure is not simple, and it requires supporting documentation to make it through the approval process. For example, the format of your drawing needs to call out the right claims regarding color, fonts, and application to be accepted and provide maximum protection. Your claims can’t be too broad or too narrow. Having crafted numerous applications, an experienced trademark lawyer can help make sure all of the documentation related to the application is up to the task.
Overall, a trademark lawyer can help you by making the entire application and maintenance process simpler, with fewer potential errors than if you had done it yourself. In case anything does go wrong, a trained lawyer will be better equipped to respond to the problems and protect you and your business.
Cost Drivers for a Trademark Lawyer
Many variables can drive the cost of hiring a trademark lawyer up or down, including location or state, big law firms vs small ones vs solo practitioners, the lawyer’s level of experience, and services offered (for example, whether or not the lawyer will perform a clearance search for you).
Generally speaking the trademark costs for a trademark lawyer come in 1 of 2 forms: flat fee + additional hourly fees or just straight hourly fees. In both cases, you can expect fees to range from $500 to $1,000 for a lawyer from a small or medium-sized law firm. Someone from a larger or more established firm will likely cost you a flat fee between $1,000 and $2,000 per application, per class. You may need to account for costs for additional actions like extensions and trademark renewal fees. And of course, these are all separate from the USPTO filing fees that you will need to pay regardless of whether you hire a lawyer or not.
The key to controlling costs in this model is preventing rework at a later time. If you want to keep costs down, that means doing more work upfront yourself, such as making sure your trademark is as distinctive as possible. The other driver is communication. The trademark lawyer is going to try and get through the process as quickly as possible, since they’re not being paid for the amount of time they spend on this application. That means the more information you can provide them upfront, the better for both parties. This information can include your trademark strategy, e.g., what classes are appropriate or potential areas of conflict will help them do a better job given a fixed amount of effort.
In addition to the drivers for the flat fee + costs model, the straight billable hours are going to be affected by the extensiveness of the process (such as the inclusion of a trademark search), and any complications that may arise. Most law firms subscribe to legal search software, such as Compumark, that is going to be more sophisticated than the USPTO’s free search tool. So when talking to the lawyer, be clear upfront on how extensive you want the search to be. This includes whether you need an international trademark, which can push the legal fees from a couple thousand to tens of thousands.
Another cost driver is any Office Actions that might arise. These are hard to predict but the usual amount of time a lawyer spends on responding to an Office Action is four to eight hours. At $500 per hour, that means each Office Action is likely to add $2,000 to $4,000 to your trademark costs.
Finding Legal Assistance for Trademarks
To find a suitable lawyer to hire, or if you want a more accurate estimate, you can check US telephone listings or browse online. The American Bar Association (ABA) provides a consumer’s guide for obtaining legal help, checking attorneys’ licenses, getting assistance for veterans, and more.
The USPTO also offers reduced-fee legal services via its Law School Clinic Certification Program. This program lets law students enrolled in the clinic program provide legal aid to clients, under the guidance of an experienced supervisor.
Another option is the ABA’s list of free resources for Intellectual Property Law in the United States.
Finally, the International Trademark Association (INTA) also offers its Clearinghouse program, in which clients who need help with trademark issues are matched with volunteer attorneys who will work pro bono. This is an especially attractive option for low-income individuals, nonprofit organizations, or small businesses without much extra room in the budget.
If you don’t want to file a trademark application yourself but also don’t want to shoulder the expense of hiring a lawyer, an intermediate solution is to use an online legal service like LegalZoom. The service can perform a trademark search, fill out the application, help with drawings, and provide additional forms if needed.
LegalZoom charges $599 + federal fees to register a trademark. If the first trademark gets rejected, LegalZoom will cover the $599 fee to register a different trademark. You can also request just a trademark search, for which you’ll pay $199 to $499. For a more complete look at LegalZoom and other options, check out our guide to the best online legal services.
Summary of the Trademark Application Procedure
Here is a quick review of the steps involved in the mark application process:
- Select or create your trademark.
- Perform an online clearance search to ensure that your design is not too similar to existing trademarks.
- Consider whether to hire a trademark attorney.
- File your trademark application online (paper applications are no longer accepted) using the Trademark Electronic Application System via the USPTO website. Monitor your application status regularly.
- Stand by for any communication from a USPTO examining attorney who will be reviewing your application.
- Receive approval or denial of your application.
- Maintain your registration with the appropriate documents.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Applying for a trademark might be starting to seem like a complicated and daunting procedure. Don’t be discouraged; start the process by considering the basic questions and answers below.
If you file the application yourself, registration will cost between $250 and $350. If you hire a trademark attorney, costs will probably top out at a $2,000 flat fee, though additional fees may apply if the attorney charges billable hours. If you use an online legal service, costs can reach $600+.
Base registration fees when filing at the USPTO generally fall within the ranges listed above, but other factors can drive overall costs up or down. These factors include hiring a trademark attorney, the number of classes of products and services for which you want trademarks, and whether you apply via TEAS Plus or TEAS Standard.
Having a trademark is not required to run your business, but owning a trademark gives you legal protections such as recognition of ownership in a federal court, the right to file lawsuits related to your trademark, and possible deterrence against brand copycats.
Yes. You will need to pay additional fees after five years (minimum $225 per class) to officially declare the continued use of your trademark. After 10 years, you will need to file an Application of Renewal as well (an additional minimum of $525 per class).
The cost to register trademarks typically ranges between $250 and $2,000. Base USPTO fees will be at least $250 per trademark per class. An online legal service will add around $600+ to that, and using a trademark lawyer will add at least $1,500 to the USPTO fees. In our assessment, the DIY route is cheap but complicated, and hiring a lawyer is expensive but probably worth it.
Regardless of what method you use, you can keep costs down by having a strong trademark application—which means it’s not a descriptive name such as Tasty Ketchup, not location-based such as Chicago Pizza, not generic such as Shoelaces, and not similar to existing marks such as Bob’s Greyhound Bus Line.