In the clothing industry, branding is everything. To be successful, you must protect and manage your brand while your business and your clothing line grow. A trademark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, is the best way to both protect and maintain control of your brand.
While there are costs associated with registering your trademark, the benefits far outweigh the expense. In addition, your registered trademark will become a valuable asset, with a value that grows along with your business. Consider the following information about the cost to trademark a clothing brand.
Most Clothing Brands Have Multiple Trademarks to Protect
A trademark shows the public that a product or service is associated with a specific company or brand. Most commonly, a trademark protects business names, logos, or slogans, but it can also protect sounds or color schemes.
It is important to note, however, that each registered trademark can only cover one specific mark. When it comes to trademarking your clothing brand, you may need to consider multiple trademarks to receive full protection for your brand. While there are additional costs for each mark you register, the protections and benefits you receive far outweigh the costs.
Most businesses, no matter what goods or services they offer, benefit from trademarking their business name. This is typically the most visible trademark a business may have, appearing in print ads, on products, and storefronts, so the likelihood for possible infringement is high. Therefore, it’s an easy decision to register your business name.
Your next trademark decisions, however, may be more challenging, and unique to your individual business. If you have developed a logo for your clothing brand, and you intend, now or in the future, to begin putting that logo on items in your clothing line, you should also register this trademark with the USPTO.
Some businesses have a signature color attached to their brand. While this is much less common than a business name or a logo, these signature color schemes can be a great brand defining tool.
For example, Christian Louboutin’s line of high heeled shoes is known around the world for its red sole, a trademark which the designer registered in 2008. Clothing brands that feature a specific color scheme in every piece of clothing may also want to consider a trademark registration.
The Cost to Register Your Trademark
The basic cost to register a trademark with the USPTO is $350 per class of goods. Depending on your brand offerings, you may need to register in multiple classes. If your brand includes both clothing and purses, for instance, you’ll pay the basic application fee for both classes of goods. In some instances, if you meet specific application requirements, you may be able to pay a reduced rate of $225 per class of goods. To see if you qualify for this reduced rate application, it is best to contact an experienced trademark attorney.
When using Gerben IP, we offer a flat legal fee of $1,500 to complete a full US trademark search and file your application. Therefore, if filing in a single class of goods (for clothing) the total cost of your trademark search and filing would be $1,850.
The Cost of Not Registering Your Trademark
Some entrepreneurs do not realize the importance of a federally registered trademark, and thus build their brand without those protections. Others conclude that a registered trademark is only for established brands, and decide to wait a few years before beginning the process. Either way, doing business without a registered trademark can be a costly mistake.
While some common law rights may exist simply by using the trademark, those rights will be quite limited. For instance, common law rights only protect you against trademark disputes that occur in the small geographic region where your business is located. This means if you plan to expand and grow to other areas, you may not be protected.
If you are found to be infringing on an existing mark, you may incur both legal costs and the expenses that come with rebranding your clothing line, both of which are likely to cost much more than a trademark application fee.
Benefits of Working with a Trademark Attorney
Business owners and entrepreneurs are often do-it-yourself people by nature. While taking the DIY approach may be beneficial in other areas of business, it is not recommended for the trademark application process.
One reason for this is the comprehensive trademark search. The purpose of this search is to determine if any similar trademarks have been registered with the USPTO before you begin the application process.
While some online legal sites advertise free searches, they may not alert you to all possible matches. This is because most trademark disputes occur, not from exact matches, but from similar marks that may cause a likelihood of confusion in the marketplace. Free and DIY searches typically only reveal exact matches, leaving you open to possible application problems once you file with the USPTO.
Experienced trademark attorneys, on the other hand, have access to a very complex database that will reveal near and exact matches to words, logos, and slogans. Not only will they assist you with the trademark search, but they can also help you make decisions on what to do if it is revealed a trademark similar to yours is already registered or in use by another company.
Trademark attorneys are well versed in every detailed legal decision throughout the process as well, from selecting the correct international classes to responding to Office Actions from the USPTO. In addition, according to a recent study by the University of North Carolina, working with a trademark attorney increases the likelihood your application will be approved by fifty percent.
Maintaining control of your clothing brand, its quality, and reputation is essential to the brand’s success. The protections granted to you through trademark ownership ensure that you have the legal right to control your brand, and the legal basis to fight infringement.
Consider which marks you need to protect through federal trademark registration and work with an experienced attorney to register your mark with the USPTO. The cost to trademark your clothing line is minimal, but the cost of not registering your trademark could have costly consequences.