How To Pick The Right Type Of Trademark Application
You’re ready to file an application to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You’ve made sure to search and clear your trademark, or had a trademark lawyer do so for you, and are confident that your application will be granted. So you go to the USPTO’s online application page, only to learn for the first time there are three different types of online applications you can submit: (1) TEAS Plus (2) TEAS Reduced Fee (3) TEAS Regular.
For most people, the differences between these options, or at least the significance of their differences, are not immediately apparent. And yet, choosing the wrong option can have meaningful consequences, including overspending on filing fees or—worse—denial of your application. That’s why it’s important to understand which option is the best fit for you before you go any further.
AT $225 per class of goods and services, the Plus application is the cheapest of the three online options, but it also has the most initial requirements (to learn about these requirements, take a look at this blog post under subheading “The Contents of the Application”). Still, for most applicants, these requirements aren’t particularly bothersome, and so the Plus option is usually the one applicants get started with. But before you do this, you should understand an important limitation with the Plus application.
If you file a Plus application, you must select a description of your goods and services from a preset list of choices, which are set out in the Trademark ID Manual. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, and in fact it can be quite helpful for inexperienced applicants who would otherwise struggle to craft acceptable descriptions of their goods and services.
But it becomes a problem if, for instance, you’re unable to find a description that accurately depicts your goods or services. Consider this example. Let’s say your company provides software as a service (SAAS), and so you access the Trademark ID Manual and type in “SAAS.” The results you would see are below.
Now, let’s say your services are slightly different than any of these descriptions. Even though the last three results allow you to insert custom language, you’re still concerned that these set descriptions don’t accurately describe what it is your company does. In that case, you’d be better off creating a custom description or having an attorney help you to do so.
Tip: When looking for descriptions of your goods and services, don’t settle for a description because it’s “close enough.” If you can’t find an accurate description from the preset list, it’s better to write a custom description and file a different type of application than to use an inaccurate description just to save a bit of money on filing a Plus application.
A Plus application can also create problems where you want to use certain specific language in your description in an effort to distinguish your mark from another so as to avoid a refusal based on a likelihood of confusion—the most common basis for refusal.
In short, if you have a good reason to use a custom description of your goods and services, you should almost certainly file a type of application that allows you to do so.
TEAS Reduced Fee
At $275 per class of goods and services, the RF application is slightly more expensive than the Plus application. However, the initial requirements for a RF application are slightly less demanding. More importantly, though, an RF application gives you the option to use a custom description of your goods and/or services.
As noted above, there are a number of potential benefits to using a custom description, particularly if you want to distinguish your mark from another with a similar description of goods or services. And using a custom description is a practical necessity if you’re unable to find an accurate description in the Trademark ID Manual.
If you do decide to file a RF application, it’s worth getting help from a trademark attorney in drafting the custom description. There are very strict guidelines for describing goods and services, and even a single misstep can draw an office action from the examining attorney, which you’ll have to respond to. (Learn more about office actions in this blog post.)
While you may balk at paying more in filing fees, especially if you’re filing in many different classes, it’s almost certainly worth doing, especially if you can’t find an accurate description in the Trademark ID Manual.
At $400 per class of goods and services, the Regular type of application is the most expensive of the three. There’s rarely reason for applicants to file a Regular application. However, one potential benefit of filing a Regular application is that it requires you to submit very little information at the time of filing, which can be desirable if the applicant wants to file as soon as possible to ensure priority over other applicants. With a Regular application, you’re also allowed to conduct non-electronic correspondence and filing. But of course most would rather use electronic correspondence and filing, so this is not an attractive feature to most applicants.
So, which type of application should you use? Well, that depends on a number of factors, some of which have been addressed in this post. I highly encourage you to consult with a trademark attorney about your particular case. With that said, below are some general guidelines for choosing an application type.
You should probably use TEAS Plus if you’re able to find a description from the Trademark ID Manual that accurately describes your goods and services. TEAS Plus is often a good option for first-time or inexperienced applicants, especially those who aren’t working with an attorney.
You should probably use TEAS RF if you have a good reason for using a custom description of your goods and services. Good reasons include, but are not limited to, failing to find an accurate description from the preset list and wanting to distinguish the description of your mark from that of another with a similar description.
You should probably use TEAS Regular if you need to file as quickly as possible or if you want the option of using non-electronic correspondence and filing.