If you sell online, getting a federal trademark registration to protect your brand can be an important tool. For example, eligibility for the Amazon Brand Registry generally requires a federal trademark registration. Many eager sellers are surprised to learn that it may take months or longer to obtain the trademark registration.
So, what are the best trademark registration options for Amazon and how do you get it in a timely manner? Here are some options compared:
1. Do it Yourself (DIY)
Like many things, it’s possible to get a trademark registration by doing it yourself—you will save some money if you pull it off. But, one Stanford study shows that pro se applicants are less than 50% likely to succeed. Delays, failure, wasted filing fees, and costly rebranding can be painful. Unsurprisingly, the USPTO “strongly encourage[s]” use of a U.S.-licensed attorney who specializes in trademark law. So, trying to get a trademark registration by yourself is probably not the best option.
2. Online Trademark Filing Service
There are many online trademark filing services (think Legalzoom.com) that are DIY+, offering to file trademark applications for between ~$100 and ~$500 (not including government fees). Unfortunately, many of these sites skimp on upfront due diligence and work. They also aren’t great at gleaning and analyzing the information necessary for preparing a well drafted trademark application. Problems during trademark examination like added costs and delays are still common in this approach. While online trademark filing services are slightly better than DIY, they are usually not as good as a traditional law firm.
3. Law Firm
Using a traditional law firm is the tried and true way to do trademark registration. Again, if a firm has good trademark attorneys, your chances of success go up dramatically (as mentioned above). The problem is that this is a very costly route: according to the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) 2019 Report of the Economic Survey (“2019 AIPLA Survey”), the median cost for trademark attorney work (like a trademark clearance search and opinion, trademark application, and trademark prosecution) is $3,230, not including government filing fees. For many folks, this is just too expensive.
4. Amazon’s IP Accelerator Referral Service
In a variation of the law firm option, Amazon advertises a list of trademark attorneys to obtain trademarks for the Amazon Brand Registry at pre-negotiated rates. However, these rates are still relatively expensive. For example, an Amazon IP Accelerator attorney charges $2,400 for a comprehensive trademark search and trademark application (not including government fees). According to the AIPLA Survey, this is higher than the median cost of around $2,000 for the same services by other trademark attorneys. So, Amazon’s IP Accelerator referrals are better than DIY and online filing services, but close to traditional law firm expense.
5. Solo Trademark Attorney or Small Firm
Solo trademark attorneys and small firms are usually less expensive than larger law firms and they can perform as good or better than them. This is the case because bigger firms have larger overhead to cover. In fact, according to the 2019 AIPLA Survey, solo attorneys are typically 32% less expensive than their peers at larger firms. So, using an experienced solo or small firm trademark attorney is a great option. You will do much better than you would on your own or with an online trademark filer, and with less expense than a regular law firm or Amazon’s IP Accelerator Referral Service.