15 Mar Why Automated Trademark Services are Not the Answer
One of the most common mistakes brand owners make is this: “I don’t need to hire an attorney. I can just use an online filing service or automated legal template. It’s the same thing.” Professionally, this means that our firm will not have the opportunity to work with a great entrepreneur and creative business owner. However, more alarming, is knowing that this entrepreneur has potentially put their business, their hard work, and their intellectual property assets at risk.
Filling out automated legal templates through online filing services is not the same thing as hiring an experienced business law and intellectual property expert to help assess all business needs and take every precaution to protect a brand. Sure, working with an attorney can cost more than an automated services. On the other hand, the services received from working one-on-one with an experienced attorney will prove invaluable throughout the brand protection journey.
What is an Online Filing Service or an Automated Legal Template?
Before we dive into all of the ways that receiving comprehensive legal services to address brand protection needs is far more effective than online filing services and automated legal templates, let’s back up a minute. It’s important to know that an online filing service is a service offered via a website that submits any kind of filing/application/registration on behalf of a person or business. An automated legal template is the form that the online filing service uses to gather the information used for the submission. So what does a user actually pay for when using an online filing service, for example, to submit a trademark registration? Essentially, the online fee is for a template that is filled out by the mark applicant (you) that will automatically submit the application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Why would this be a bad thing? It seems like it would be so much easier and faster than working with an attorney.
Here’s a few thoughts on what can go wrong:
This may seem silly, but submitting an application with a typo or simple mistake, can invalidate an entire trademark application. Furthermore, the USPTO DOES NOT issue refunds on fees, which means the application will have to be refiled and likewise, the fee must be paid twice.
Throughout the trademark application process, there are a number of decisions that have to be made. For example, elections regarding the trademark use and International Classification. Online filing services do not make this determination for you. If the wrong classification is chosen by the user, the application can be delayed or rejected.
This is one of the most common problems we see with automated filings of trademark application. How can you be sure that your mark is eligible for trademark registration? Without careful research and expertise around trademark eligibility, a proper trademark search and clearance cannot be finalized prior to submitting an application. Using an online filing service that cannot clear a mark exhausts time and resources that can otherwise be allocated to the clearance of a mark that is eligible for brand protection.
Wrong Documents Entirely.
Most patience do not visit a doctor and tell them which prescriptions are need. Instead, they visit with a medical professional to discuss their symptoms, health goals, and lifestyle. The same is true with legal services. Legal services begin long before a document or application is filled out and submitted. Methodical and complete legal services begin with learning about the business assets, its goals, and which brand protection opportunities will benefit this particular business. Unfortunately, when using an automated service, the process begins at the treatment phase, rather than the diagnosis phase. Not all brands are created the same nor have comparable needs.
Changes in The Law.
Automated services do not take in to account changes in the law with previous users of their services. Only a legal professional can advise on the policy changes that have taken place (or will soon take place) that will affect the brand protection process. Automated services DO NOT offer any legal advice and use of their services must be done with caution and knowledge.
Online Services Disclaimers.
Online services often disclaim any liability, responsibility in reliance on their services, knowledge of changes in the law and make it clear that they are NOT lawyers. Basically, user beware because your business may be irretrievably altered by using an online service, and, unfortunately, there will be no recourse.
How are Automated Services Different than Working With an Experienced Trademark Attorney?
Starting the process of brand protection with an experienced intellectual property attorney brings to the forefront all of the considerations that online filing services do not. The trademark process involves a substantial amount of knowledge and decision making that cannot be found in a template. That does come at a premium, but not without limits which benefit small businesses that NEED to protect their brands. As a flat-fee law firm, The Brand Protected® sets a flat rate for trademark services rather than charging hourly. The fee includes all phone calls, emails, meetings, documentation and other instruments needed to get the mark registered, without any of the billing surprises.
Next, experienced trademark attorneys start at the very beginning: the diagnosis phase. Before it can even be determined which documents, applications, and legal action a brand needs, the brand assets and goals must be understood. Then, a comprehensive strategy and plan can be discussed to begin the brand protection process. Finally, if a trademark application is warranted, a knowledgeable trademark attorney would perform a complete search and clearance of the proposed mark, taking in to account the business’ use of the mark.
At The Brand Protected®, we take comprehensive legal services a step further. In addition to providing legal advice specific to the unique matter before our firm, our trademark attorneys represent the client through the entire process. A dedicated and experienced business and intellectual property attorney will work through the comprehensive plan, alongside the business, until the registration process is complete and thereafter…yes, there is a “thereafter”. This includes responding to office actions, objections, cancellations, filing statements of use, and policing marks for which registration has been obtained (submitting an application was just the easy part). The Brand Protected® has developed its legal services to offer a one-stop-shop for solving complex legal problems and preparing businesses for unlimited growth. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. Taking the step to add an experienced legal advisor to your team, rather than an automated service, is one of the best ways you can ensure brand protection of your business assets.