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A trademark attorney helps you file claims with the United States Patent and Trademark office and will also help you ensure compliance with applicable laws regarding fair use and copyright infringement. Trademark lawyers are essential to the operation of a successful commercial enterprise. Failure to obey the laws defining trademarks and other intellectual property will lead to stiff financial penalties.
Where to look for an attorney
Trademark attorneys are not required to be members of State Bar Associations. This is true even in states that mandate this membership for other lawyers and legal professionals. Trademark attorneys may still be part of the local bar associations and will typically join the intellectual property law section within that organization.
The USPTO will have a directory of all trademark attorneys available online for the public’s use. Here you will find all registered attorneys and their location. You will then be able to receive consultations and make decisions on legal representation.
You may use this website to find an attorney. To do so, use the search box on top of all pages. You may also compare attorneys and ask free questions by clicking Find Attorneys on top of the page.
Evaluating Experience & Education
Ask the trademark attorney about any other clients that he has worked with and his familiarity with the process. Not only should the trademark lawyer be familiar with trademark applications, but should have a process of his own to determine the legitimacy and trademark-ability of your claim.
If the trademark attorney is unaware of any of these important steps in the process, then you will need to consider finding another trademark attorney. Failure to follow the process, as set by the USPTO will endanger your right to protect and use the trademark for your product. If the trademark attorney shows a gross lack of understanding on the workings of the trademark process, you may need to contact the USPTO to ensure that the negligent trademark attorney is properly disciplined.
With proper knowledge, the attorney can help you rewrite the proposal to make it stronger and protect against potential flaws or pitfalls that could stall or terminate the approval process. The trademark attorney should be able to identify how the trademark examiner will think and react to the trademark claim.
How long does trademarking take?
The trademarking process typically takes ten months, from filing to trademark certification. Five or six years after the trademark is certificated affidavits of continued use and incontestability will need to be filed by the trademark attorney. Make sure that the attorney is aware of your needs for continuing service and will help you maintain your trademark by filing the necessary paperwork.
Personality & Values
Communication is important in this process, so ensure that you and your trademark attorney have a communication agreement. This arrangement will ensure a way for you to contact your attorney with questions and concerns as well as request additional services. If you have difficulty communicating with your lawyer, they you should consider the services of another trademark attorney.
Since there is always a chance that your trademark claim may be disputed, ensure that your trademark attorney has trial experience and is will to protect your claim if necessary. You may have to find the services of another trademark attorney if you are dissatisfied with your current attorney’s willingness to defend the claim.
Organization and diligence are important factors when selecting a trademark attorney. The trademark attorney will need to file affidavits every few years to maintain the trademark, so you will need to have your records in order and possibly work out a billing arrangement with the trademark attorney to continue to maintain the intellectual property on your behalf.
Even with the guidelines on ethics issued by the patent office, you must be vigilant when dealing with some lawyers that lack a solid record of integrity and ensure that your dealings with them are fair and transparent. Be aware of unreasonable fees, illegal activity or coercion on the part of the patent attorney. If necessary, you may report unethical behavior to the USPTO, which will prevent a similar experience for another trademark seeker needing legal advice.
Preparing for an appointment
Before meeting with a lawyer to perform any aspect of trademark law, one should be able to present the word mark or logo mark to be trademarked. This means that text trademarks must be presented in exact spelling and logo marks must be presented in full, a copy of which can be reproduced digitally. This will be for the records of both the lawyer and the USPTO.
For those that simply need a document completed, prepared or filed, there may be a flat fee available, which eschews hourly or retainer fees with the understanding that you will not require the dedicated services of the lawyer.
Decide in advance how you would prefer to pay the lawyer for his or her services. If necessary, you will need to formulate a retainer agreement, in accordance with state regulations. Alternatively, you can opt for hourly rates and flat fees for using the lawyer’s legal services. Remember that the trademark will have to be renewed every five years and retaining the lawyer’s services will be useful.
Rates, Fees & Retainers
Chances are you will not need to place the lawyer on immediate retainer unless your claim is being disputed. For those that cannot afford to keep a lawyer on dedicated retainer, the best and most popular option is to pay the patent lawyer a flat fee for performing legal services, such as helping you file the trademark paperwork.
While consulting a trademark attorney, hourly rates may be accrued from using the lawyer or support staff such as paralegals. There may be other fees for creating and copying documents as well as filing them with the proper authorities. It is especially important to be aware of those fees. Fee dispute resolution services may be available to help you with this matter.
Interviewing your trademark lawyer
The following questions are important when interviewing your attorney:
What fees do I pay for retaining your services?
- Am I paying for the use of a paralegal or other service in your office?
- Are there fees for the reproduction of documents?
- Can I have that in writing?
Can I contact you directly if there is a problem?
Will you allow me to examine your credentials?
What do you normally specialize in?
What happens if my claim is disputed by another party?
If you cannot handle my case, can you refer me to a lawyer that can?