I lied, I didn’t end up going to Portland. Instead I’ve spent part of my day reviewing logos and business cards, and filing my business name and logo for trademarks. I’ve heard different opinions on whether you need a lawyer to help you do this. I decided I would be a “maverick” and try to file it my own darn self. If you ever want to file for a trademark, here are some things to note about the application process:
1) The government website USPTO.GOV is the ugliest site I’ve ever seen. Once you click on the left navigation to get deeper information, the explanations they provide on how to begin the filing process is horrible. In some ways it seems like a wikipedia article: people seem to have added verbiage here and there, but they’ve also added many intermittent warnings in red type.
2) The first big decision you need to make is choosing between 2 forms: the TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System) PLUS FORM for $275, and the regular TEAS FORM for $325. What’s the difference between the forms? Well, I am not quite sure. If you read the descriptions of the 2 forms, it is not very clear under which conditions you’d file for the plus or regular form. The plus form disclaimer indicated that if if you filled out that form and you should have filled out the other one, you’d need to pay the additional $50. I decided to proceed with the cheaper “plus” form because the application seemed similar, and there wasn’t a fee or penalty for filing for the wrong form.
3) Choosing industry codes and categories is tedious. And back to the website usability, the categorization of information is not organized on the site, and the search engine doesn’t work well. I ended up looking up “bags”, and got 274 hits. One of them was “body bags”. Maybe I could extend my product line into ecofriendly body bags.
According to the autogenerated email I received upon submitting payment, it could take 4-5 months before they review my application. But it seems that I could still operate my business while things are pending.
I’m crossing my fingers that I got the paperwork right. If I did, I saved myself some steep lawyer fees.