The cost to register and renew a trademark is going down. As of January 17, 2015, the USPTO is changing the filing fees for trademark applications by lowering (yes, lowering) them by $50. TEAS applications will now cost $275 per class (down from $325), while the less common TEAS Plus application will cost $225 per class (down from $275). The new standard TEAS application will now be called the TEAS RF, which stands for reduced fee.

What else do you need to know about the lower trademark application fees? Here’s a closer look at the specifics to help you take advantage of this favorable development for the business owner.

To take advantage of the trademark filing fee reduction your application must be filed electronically.

The new, lower trademark filing fees apply only to applications submitted electronically (TEAS actually stands for Trademark Electronic Application System). Electronic filing creates a more efficient process for both you and the USPTO, and part of the reasoning behind the lower fees is to encourage this more streamlined way of handling applications.

You must handle all the follow-up with the USPTO electronically, or, you will be charged an additional fee.

Lower trademark filing fees also come with the stipulation that you will receive and respond to all USPTO communication – Office actions and other notifications – electronically. As with the initial application, any ensuing correspondence after you’ve submitted is more easily handled electronically, both for you and for the USPTO.

The trademark process becomes more efficient and less expensive.

Lower fees are designed to encourage business owners and entrepreneurs to be more proactive in filing for trademarks, and to file electronically. More trademark applications (and trademark ownerships) mean more clear-cut proof of who is legally entitled to a mark, and more electronic applications create better communication between you and the USPTO: there’s a lower chance of applications or correspondence getting lost or separated in the mail or in a queue.

Trademark applications still need to be complete and accurate.

Trademark application standards remain the same – applications must be filled out completely and accurately, free of omissions and errors. Failure to complete a trademark application properly can still result in delays, Office actions, and additional time, effort, and potential costs required on your part – effectively eliminating the benefits of the new, lower fees. Be sure not to squander the gains of lower fees by suffering setbacks due to an insufficient application.

Filing fees still apply per class of goods.

The lower trademark application fees maintain the same stipulation as the previous ones: they apply to each class of goods for which you desire trademark protection. It remains critical not only to correctly classify your product or service – otherwise you risk an Office action by the USPTO – but you must also denote all classes of goods under which your offerings may fall. If you fail to do so, you’ll be subject to much narrower trademark protections than you may have desired, and businesses in other industries in which you intended to do business may be able to claim or challenge your mark.

Lower filing fees for trademark renewals.

In addition to lower trademark application filing fees, the USPTO is also lowering the cost for trademark renewals. Remember that your first renewal is due 5 years from the anniversary date of the registration (that is, the initial date of filing).  The second renewal is due 9 years from the original anniversary date. Each subsequent renewal is due 10 years thereafter, and you may renew your trademark in perpetuity. Once you miss a renewal, however, you automatically lose the rights to your mark – no questions asked.

Notification of trademark renewal dates.

In the past, the responsibility for remembering and adhering to trademark renewal due dates lay entirely with the trademark owner – the USPTO did not send reminders or notifications. Along with lower fees, however, the USPTO will now begin sending electronic reminders of renewal due dates to mark holders – another benefit of electronic filing and correspondence. Innumerable trademarks have been cancelled not due to legitimate challenges or infringement, but simply by the failure of the owner to renew when required. The new USPTO conventions should lower the number of such cases and assist rightful trademark owners in retaining and keeping their marks in good health.