WARNING: While an applicant can file his or her own trademark application, and while these videos highlight aspects of the filing process, attorneys (not associated with the USPTO) who are familiar with trademark matters represent most applicants. Some trademark owners may have valid and protected trademark rights that do not result from federal registration with the USPTO, and those marks may not appear in the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) database. Before ever filing a trademark application, a trademark attorney can conduct a more comprehensive search for potential problems with your use of a proposed mark than you will be able to conduct in TESS. The attorney then can counsel you regarding use of the mark, recommend whether to file a trademark application, and advise you on your likelihood of success in the registration process.
The filing of a trademark application begins a legal proceeding having many legal requirements and strict time deadlines. Not all applied-for trademarks register, and filing fees are not refundable, even if the USPTO does not ultimately issue you a registration for your mark. Whether you ultimately proceed on your own behalf or a trademark attorney represents you, all substantive and procedural requirements of the Trademark Act and Trademark Rules of Procedure must be met. Should you wish to consult an attorney, you can find the names of attorneys who handle trademark matters in local telephone listings, the Internet, or contact the attorney referral service of a state bar or local bar association (see American Bar Association's Consumers' Guide to Legal Help (link is external)). The USPTO cannot aid in the selection of an attorney, nor can the Trademark Assistance Center provide any legal advice.
Attorneys generally charge a fee for their services, but some attorneys and bar associations may offer free or greatly reduced services to financially under-resourced individuals and small businesses. The USPTO has interacted with intellectual property ("IP") law associations to encourage the establishment of such pro bono programs, including the American Bar Association (link is external). The International Trademark Association (INTA) also has established an INTA trademark pro bono clearinghouse pilot program (link is external). The USPTO's reference of these resources is for informational purposes only.