March 3, 2016

Guest Post: The Trademark Process – What Food Biz Owners Need To Know

joshgerbenSo far in this series of articles about trademarks, we’ve talked about the reasons why your small food business should trademark important names, and have also covered what kinds of protections a trademark does and doesn’t offer. Today we’re going to get more into the details of the trademark application process: how it works, how much time it takes and what it costs.

Filing Your Application

Applying for a trademark is as simple as filing an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. After submitting your application, an examining attorney with the USPTO will review it and will check to see if there are already trademarks in existence with which your trademark filing would conflict. If there are, your trademark application will be denied. If there are no conflicting trademarks, the examining attorney moves the application to the publication stage.

During the 30-day publication period, anyone in the US can comment as to why your trademark could be damaging to them, effectively requesting that the USPTO deny your application. At the end of the 30 days, the examining attorney reviews all of the comments and makes a final decision—to approve or deny your trademark request. If the attorney approves your trademark application and your products/services/business was being sold/operating during the time you filed, you will receive your trademark registration certificate in the mail.

How Long Does it Take?

The entire trademark process typically takes between 6-8 months—typically closer to 8—including 3-4 months for the initial USPTO review and 1 month for the publication period. However, that doesn’t include the time it takes for you to prepare your trademark application for filing, nor does it include the time it takes to refile if your application is denied.

How Much Does it Cost?

Registering a trademark isn’t as expensive as you might think. In most situations, for each class of goods or services in which you to register a trademark, the USPTO charges a $325 filing fee. That means that if you want to register a name in both the beer/ales category as well as the wine/spirits/liqueurs category, the government filing fees would be $650.

But keep in mind that the government keeps your filing fee, regardless of if your application is approved or denied. That’s why many small businesses opt to work with a trademark attorney—they find that the guidance an experienced trademark attorney can provide to get your application approved the first time leads to an overall cost savings, and helps move things along much more quickly than if you went through the application process on your own.

Worth the Time and Money

Trademarking important business or product names comes with a certain amount of expense, but it’s well worth the cost given the protection it provides—and the process has been streamlined to allow small business owners to submit applications on their own. However, many businesses find that working with an experienced trademark attorney makes the process go more smoothly and increases their chances of application success on their trademark filings. Whichever route you go, make sure to give yourself plenty of time for the process to complete.

Author Bio: Josh Gerben is the principal of the Gerben Law Firm, PLLC, a firm that focuses specifically on trademark law and services. Gerben Law works with businesses across the US and the world looking to protect their assets both online and offline. You can learn more about Josh on his blog.

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