The trademark application process moves through three stages:
Stage 1 – The Application
As a preliminary matter, trademark applicants have four options for trademark application depending on their particular circumstances:
1) Section 1(a) of the Lanham Act (the United States Trademark Act) allows application for applicants who have already made use of their mark in United States commerce (e.g., already doing business in the US).
2) Section 1(b) of the Lanham Act allows application for applicants who verify that they intent to use the mark in United States commerce within 1 year of publication on the National Register. Such application must be perfected within 1 year by submitting specimens to prove use of the mark in commerce. The purpose of a 1(b) application is for applicants who have not yet used the mark in the US to “lock” in their date of priority to the date of their 1(b) application — in other words, if another entity uses a similar mark after the applicant’s 1(b) application but before the date of perfection, the original applicant will be accorded priority as of the date of its 1(b) application.
3) Section 44(e) of the Lanham Act allows foreign applicants who already own a trademark registration in their foreign country of origin to register their mark in the US based on such foreign registration.
4) Section 44(d) of the Lanham Act allows foreign applicants to “lock” the day of priority for their mark to the day of their foreign trademark application. The practical results of this are the same as in the 1(b) application described above.
Applicants may apply under a combination of the above options. For example, they may apply under Section 1(a) if they have already used the mark in the US and they may also use Section 44(d) to lock their date of priority to the date of their potentially earlier foreign application.
Costs for Stage 1:
USPTO Fees: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) charges a $325 filing fee for each class under which the applicant wishes to register their trademark. A “class” is a description of the type of goods or services with which the mark is associated. For example, Craigslist.com is registered for Class 35 (advertising information) and Class 38 (interactive bulletin boards).
Attorney Fees: Most attorneys charge hourly for trademark work or otherwise charge a flat fee based on the estimate time it would take to complete the initial filing. The initial paperwork for a Stage 1 filing should take no longer than one hour. As explained below, it is not possible to estimate the time it would take to move an application through Stages 2-3.
Search Fees: The USPTO does not refund filing fees, thus prior to filing the application it is highly advisable to have your attorney conduct a search of the USPTO database to confirm that a registration or application for a similar mark does not already exist. The most advisable search method is to have the attorney engage a specialist service, like Thompson CompuMark, to perform a thorough search. Such services generally charge $600-800 for the search.