How to file a trademark online
Filing a Trademark Online
While I prefer that my clients hire me to file trademarks, occasionally a small business simply cannot afford to pay legal fees but still desires to file a trademark. The USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) uses an online filing system. The system is somewhat complicated, but does include step-by-step instructions.
The USPTO site is the best place to start, www.uspto.gov, but be sure to read instructions first. The biggest problem that people have is in describing their product or service in a way that fits the U.S. International Classification system. Want to apply for “clothing?” That will require that you state “apparel, namely shirts, t-shirts, socks, pants, shorts, tank tops, panties, etc.” You literally list every piece of clothing that you make (or intend to make) with the brand.
A second problem that self-filing applicants make is to state TOO MANY goods in their application. Here’s the catch: if you file for goods or services that you do not actually use, and you “allege” that you are in fact using the mark for all such goods or services, then you have committed a fraud on the trademark office. You can have your entire trademark cancelled down the road for this. There are two remedies for this common mistake. First, you can file your application as an “intent to use” application, state as many goods as you may use, but then redact all unused goods later when you are ready to “state use” of your trademark. Second, you can file based on “actual use” but only state the actual goods that you have actually used the brand to sell.
Filing online can save legal fees, and many clients have done just fine. Other clients end up spending as much on legal fees for an attorney to fix mistakes as if they had just used an attorney in the first place.