But while trademarks are great to have, they can cost a lot of money. You can save money by filing yourself, but the process can be painstaking. However, it can be done when you have the right guidance.
Today, I will take you step-by-step through the process of filing for your trademark yourself so you can protect your brand and save some cash.
I have successfully filed for several trademarks for my own businesses, including Just One Dime—which trains Amazon sellers.
Prevent customer confusion.
Before you can apply for a trademark, you need to first conduct what is called a high-level, or knockout, search for other brand names.
What are you looking for specifically?
Any name that is the same as yours, or sounds similar to yours, that is already selling in the same product category that you do/will.
You do not want to apply to trademark a brand name that is already selling in the same category as you. You do not want to apply to trademark a brand name that is similar to one selling in the same category as you. In either case, you likely will not win and instead will have wasted money on application fees.
You can read the full how-to on knockout searches our post "Amazon Seller Trademark Registration for Brand Registry". But here’s the quickstep guide:
- Brainstorm a unique name that doesn’t use language directly related to your product.
- Use a search tool like Knowem.com to see where that name is currently being used.
- Search any social media handles or web domains that are in use for that name.
- Ensure those profiles and sites are not selling products similar to yours or in your category.
- Conduct a TESS search with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for that name.
- Ensure there are no existing trademarks for that name in the product categories you will file in.
If no one else is using that same name, or a similar-sounding name, to sell products in the same product category as you—and there are no trademarks for that name or a similar-sounding one for those categories—you can proceed to file for your trademark.
Understand trademark classifications.
When you file for your trademark, you will elect specific product (or service) classifications. Classifications are similar to Amazon product categories. You will pay at least $250 per classification when you file, regardless of how you file.
Most brands choose around two or three different classifications depending on their type of product(s). For example, if you sell leather golf gloves, you would file in the Toys and Sporting Goods classification, but also in the Leather Goods classification. This will protect you if another brand tries to sell leather working gloves with a name similar to yours, which might cause customer confusion.
Once you know what classifications you want to file under, it’s time to apply for your trademark.
File for your trademark yourself.
As I mentioned, filing for your trademark yourself can be a bit of a hassle. You can save yourself time and work by hiring:
- A legal service like LegalZoom, which will cost an additional $250+
- A trademark attorney, which will cost an additional $1,000 - $1,500+
- A trademark attorney through Amazon’s IP Accelerator, which will cost an additional $1,000 - $1,500+
Rather than spending money on attorneys, you can save money by filing yourself.
1. Create an account at USPTO.gov.
This is fairly simple. They just need your name and contact information.
2. Hover over “Trademarks” from the top menu on USPTO.gov.
3. Click “Apply Online”.
4. Click “Initial application forms”.
5. Click “Start your application in TEAS”.
6. Fill out the application form.
7. Pay the trademark fees, and you’re on your way!
Monitor your application.
Once your application has been submitted, an examiner from USPTO will be assigned to your case. They will scour through thousands of trademarks in the USPTO database to ensure there is no conflict for your proposed trademark.
This process can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months. In my experience, it has taken no more than 11 months, max.
However, just because your application is off with the USPTO does not mean you can twiddle your thumbs while you wait to be approved. Your examiner will more than likely reach out to you via email to request additional information or documentation. And they will give you a response timeframe.
If you do not respond within the allotted time period, your application will be closed, you will lose the application fees you paid, and you will have to restart. Make sure that you monitor your email closely and respond to any inquiries as soon as possible to prevent this from happening.
If your examiner finds no conflicts of interest for your trademark, they will publish it in the Official Gazette, the USPTO’s weekly trademark publication.
If any other party believes that your mark infringes on a trademark they already have, they can contest yours. In that case, they have 30 days to file an objection and apply for an extension to oppose your trademark.
Now, it’s not likely that your trademark will be contested, but the USPTO isn’t perfect. There is a chance that they may overlook a similar brand trademark in your same classifications.
If no one contests your trademark during its time in the Official Gazette, congratulations you are registered!
When you officially receive your trademark, you can add ® to the end of your brand name. This, on its own, is a deterrent to hijackers. However, this step alone is not enough.
Once you have your trademark, you must enforce it. Having a trademark means nothing if you do not use the resources it affords you to protect your brand. You can learn more about all the resources available to you once you have your trademark in our article "Should You Trademark Your Business Name for Amazon FBA?". And you can learn easy ways to enforce your trademark here.
And if you’d like us to take you through the whole trademark shebang—and I do mean everything—visit JOD.com/freedom. Our team will coach you through the entire process of building and running your own Amazon store (including filing for trademarks).
I have just one question for you: how will you apply for your trademark? Let me know in the comments.