How Much Does it Cost to Trademark a Band Name
How Much Does it Cost to Trademark a Band Name is part of our Trademark Cost series.
Registering a trademark for your band is not as expensive as you might think. This is particularly true when the minimal costs of registration are balanced against the legal protections that you obtain. A band’s name is its life blood and literally its identity. Your name is how the fans find you and enjoy your sound. So trademark protection is essential.
In the United States, at the federal level, trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Trademarks rights can also be established by use. So musicians may already have some trademark rights created by the fact that the band’s name is being used to promote and provide entertainment services. That said, federal registration provides enhanced and important legal rights including public notice of trademark rights, presumptive ownership rights across the entire nation (not just locally) and the exclusive right to use the trademark.
In other words, after registration, no other band can use your trademarked name anywhere in the country. Thus, registration is the best method of legally protecting the loyalty of your fans. We strongly recommend that musicians and solo artists register their band name as trademarks.
Ownership Questions Should be Resolved Before Starting
Before beginning the trademark application process, the band must resolve ownership issues. A trademark can be owned by an individual, by a corporate entity such as a corporation or a limited liability company, or by a group of individuals as co-owners. We suggest that the band file as a partnership since that is the way the members are operating if there isn’t some other agreement. If a corporation or LLC has been formed, then that should be the owner.
Costs to Trademark a Band Name
Here is a quick summary of some of the costs associated with registering a band’s name as a federal trademark.
Base Government Filing Fees
The government filing fee for a trademark application is between $225 per class of goods or services.
Trademarks are registered for use with certain defined classes of goods or services. The USPTO organizes the classes by numbers. With respect artists and musicians, among the most commonly selected classes are these:
- Class 9 — audio, video and sound recordings featuring music including downloadable music files
- Class 25 — apparel
- Class 41 — live performances by a musical group
As noted, the first class is included in the standard filing fee and an additional fee is charged for each class selected beyond the first class. Thus, to trademark your band’s name with respect to these three classes, the USPTO filing fees would be $675.
Oftentimes bands and solo artists seek trademark protection only after they have already been performing and recording. However, we recommend a search and application at the earliest opportunity. If you have not yet started using the trademark, it is still possible to file an application. Under these circumstances, an intent-to-use application is the proper application to file. The USPTO charges an additional $100 per class fee when a statement of use is filed which is required for intent-to-use applications. Our professional fees are about $500.
As for attorneys’ fees, our flat fees are as follows:
- $300 for a trademark search and
- $650 for filing a trademark application
The trademark search is necessary to ensure that the proposed trademark does not conflict with a trademark that is already registered or in use. The USPTO will not register a trademark that is the same or confusingly similar to a previously filed trademark. The trademark application fee covers preparation of the application and the gathering of the supporting documentation (such as drawings of any designs, usage specimens, etc.). Our professional fee also covers standard communications with the Trademark Office with respect to the application.
The application itself is filed online and contains the following information:
- A drawing/depiction if a design or logo is being registered
- Consent form if the name of the band is a person’s name
- The class or classes of goods/services with which the trademark is to be associated
- Trademark specimens showing use in commerce or a declaration of intent to use — specimens might include music covers, advertisements, announcements, posters and the like
- If Class 41 is selected (live performances), then specimens such as concert promotion materials must be provided demonstrating use of the trademark in that manner or related to other entertainment services
Once filed, the application is assigned to a Trademark Office examining attorney. Given the backlog, it takes about three to four months before an application receives its first attention from an examining attorney. Thereafter, there may be routine communications and questions from the examining attorney, which are handled on behalf of the applicant.
If the application process goes smoothly, then no additional costs or legal fees are incurred. It generally takes about 8-10 months for an application to register.
Potential Additional Attorneys’ Fees
During the examination phase, the Trademark Office examining attorney reviews the application to ensure that the proposed registration meets the legal requirements of the Lanham Act. See 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051 et seq. The Lanham Act sets out the legal requirements that must be met for a trademark to be registered. If there is a problem with the application — if it is legally deficient or missing supporting elements or is problematic in some other manner — then the examining attorney will send substantive correspondence to the applicant’s attorney called an Office Action. The problem might be relatively easy to resolve like the need for a specimen of use or the disclaiming of some aspect of a design or logo. Other concerns might be more difficult to resolve such as a refusal based on a similar prior filed trademark.
The Oregon-based rock band called The Slants encountered a problem of this sort when they tried to trademark their band’s name. The examining attorney rejected the application because the Lanham Act prohibited, at that time, the registration of “disparaging trademarks.” The word “slants” is known as a derogatory word that may be offensive to Asians. But the band wanted to take possession of the word and to change it into “something that was powerful, something that was considered beautiful or a point of pride.” Eventually, the case was heard by the US Supreme Court and the court struck down the ban as a violation of the First Amendment. Problems of that magnitude rarely arise when trying to trademark a band’s name. If problems do arise, we will provide a quote for legal services to help the application move forward.
Substantive difficulties also might arise during the publication phase. If the examination phase is successful and the proposed trademark meets the legal requirements and the examining attorney is otherwise satisfied, then the proposed trademark is published for opposition in the USPTO’s Official Gazette. This opens a 30 day opposition window. During this time, other bands, musicians and artists can challenge the registration of your band’s trademark. This is done via the filing of a Trademark Opposition.
Resolving an Opposition will require additional legal services. An Opposition can sometimes be resolved with an agreement or a modification of the proposed trademark. If no settlement is reached, administrative proceedings must be conducted before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB“). A quote for legal services can be provided if your application encounters an Opposition.
We provide a full complement of registration, infringement, and litigation services if needed. A quote for legal services can be provided if you want to appeal an adverse action taken with respect to your trademark application.
Costs After Trademark Registration is Complete
The process of obtaining a trademark registration is complete when the a registration number issues. If there is no Opposition during the publication phase, the trademark will register about three months after the notice of publication in the Official Gazette.
There are also costs associated with renewing a trademark. For example, five years after registration a trademark owner must file with the USPTO an affidavit attesting to continued use of the trademark. The current government fee is $125 per class of goods/services associated with the trademark. At this time a declaration of incontestability should also be sought which is $200 per class. Then, filings are up for renewal every 10 years. The current government fee for those renewals is $425 per class.
For assistance in registering your trademark or if you have trademark related questions, please contact us today.