Beware of document preparation companies offering to file your trademark. Let me tell you a sad but true story from my practice as a trademark lawyer to illustrate my point. Recently, I took a phone call from the owner of an online kayak equipment retailer. Of course, I can't reveal his name. But for now, let's call him Joe. I could hear the frustration and fear in Joe's voice. There was also a touch of anger too. And frankly, after what he'd been through, I'd certainly be furious. Joe had spared no expense in creating buzz for his company's online launch. He paid 1000s of dollars to an ad agency to create a catchy slogan and developed an entire advertising and marketing campaign to hire a fancy PR firm spending 1000s more to create public relations buzz, news releases, media kits, the whole thing, but when it came to protecting his company's name, Joe decided to do it on the cheap. He surfed around online and discovered a trademark filing service that promised him savings of 70% over what an attorney would charge. And because this well known service promised to check the information provided prior to filing, Joe signed up immediately. He figured the service would notify him if there were any problems. He was about to find out the hard way. That the only thing they promised to check your spelling and consistency in the application form. Have you read the service's fine print? They specifically stated that their check was limited to spelling and consistency. If you're considering a document prep company, make sure you read the fine print. Now getting back to Joe, having spent 1000s of dollars to create and market his company and its spiffy new slogan, Joe was shocked to receive a cease and desist letter from his competitor. Just weeks before he was set to launch. The other kayak Equipment Company was monitoring Joe's trademark, and they threatened to file suit should Joe's company use the slogan in the marketplace. Why? Because Joe's slogan was confusingly similar to the one used by the other company who filed first. As you can imagine, Joe call the online trademarking service in a panic. He was devastated to discover that all the service did was process the paperwork. And that is a document preparation service, they could not help. They advise Joe to hire a trademark attorney, which is of course, what he should have done in the first place. A proper search and opinion by a trademark lawyer prior to filing his trademark would have identified the potential problem long before Joe spent any money on marketing and PR. Sadly, by the time I heard from Joe, it was too late and there was nothing I could do to help. Joe had to scrap all the marketing materials. All the news releases the advertisements, and his abandoned slogan and start from scratch. So how much did Joe save by hiring a document preparation service instead of a lawyer, only about $600. Incidentally, that was less than he was going to spend on a single print ad. Consult with a trademark attorney before you hire a logo designer before you invest in printing, signage, advertising and other expenses. Make sure your lawyer checks other registrations to see that there's no conflict. If you'd like to take the right steps with protecting your company name or product identity. Call me your partner innovating genres V.
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