While it is possible to establish rights in your logo or company name, enforcing those rights can be significantly more costly if your company name and logo do not have a federal registration.
Consider this: the legal costs connected with the registration of a mark that is “inherently distinctive” ranges approximately $1000 to $5000, depending on the law firm and their billing rates. On the other hand, if your company is being taken advantage of by a competitor using your mark, enforcing your rights without a federal registration can easily cost you $5000-$10,000 in legal costs – just to initiate the action.
In addition to the benefits listed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, going through the federal registration process early in your business planning offers the added benefit of determining the commercial strength of your company name or logo. This could save your company time and trouble if you picked a company name or logo which will ultimately be challenged by a competitor, against costing your company thousands of dollars in legal costs (to fight off a challenge) or in rebranding costs (if you decide to cease using the challenged company name and logo).
A quality attorney will initially take the time to conduct a search for possible oppositions against the company name or logo you wish to register. If the search reveals obvious problems, your attorney should advise you to whether to alter your mark, or to re-conceptualize the mark altogether. If it is unclear as to whether there are potential problems, you may be recommended to request a thorough search by a professional research company to better assess the likelihood of your mark being successfully registered (approx. $900). If your mark is considered “inherently distinctive,” then the trademark application process will be filed.
The USPTO will assign an examiner to review your application, typically within 3 months of filing. If they disapprove the application, they will issue the reasons for denial in a letter to your attorney. Your attorney may then advise you as to whether or not to appeal the decision. If the examiner approves your application, your mark will be published for 30 days, allowing for any person or business to oppose registration of your mark if they have a valid reason. If no challenges are brought, then registration will likely follow the publication.
I hope this has been a helpful article. Please feel free to contact The Law Office of Cliff Kuehn if you have any questions or concerns regarding your company name and/or logo.