The $11K (Possibly Incomplete) Trademark Registration

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This week I am going to get a little more personal and talk with you about the risks of trust in entrepreneurialism.  In other words, what happens when you believe that your service vendors have your back and they really don’t?

$11K TM

 

 

 

As many of you know, I decided to launch Jenerosity Marketing over a year ago.

Being in the licensing world for so long, I knew that I wanted to protect my company name and logo as quickly as possible.

So, I called a long-time lawyer friend of mine to see if he could assist me.

Unfortunately, he had a clause in his employment contract that prevented him from doing so, but he referred me to a friend of his (let’s call them “Lawyer X”) whom he assured me would be a valuable resource.

After a couple of preliminary and explanatory calls with Lawyer X, I decided to proceed with a full trademark search and registration proceedings.  Lawyer X estimated that the cost would likely be somewhere between $5K and $10K if there were no issues.

“Wow,” I thought, “that’s a lot of money but if I can get my trademark, it will be worth it!”

In the meantime, I found a wonderful designer, Alvin Uy, of Insight Creative Group who developed my logo and all of my collateral quickly, easily and at a very reasonable price.

I also continued working with my long-term financial advisor, Jack Murad, who is not only amazing at what he does, but also consistently responsive, professional and fairly priced.

(Check them both out if you ever need design or financial support!)

Back to Lawyer X and the trademark process.

Over the course of the legal process with the USPTO, I would occasionally receive notifications from Lawyer X that things were proceeding without any issues or concerns.  Thankfully, my trademark registration was going extremely smoothly!

That said, over the course of the past year, the bills continued to accrue.

As we started to approach the $10K upper limited quoted by Lawyer X, I called to discuss the situation and see how much more work needed to be done.  I was assured that we were almost done and that they were doing everything they could to keep the costs down.  They even went so far as to give me a “courtesy discount” on the smallest bill to date to satisfy my concerns.

At this point, I also did some additional research (which I probably should have done to begin with) and discovered that this process should not have cost more than $8K for an extremely complicated case.  But, you live and learn…

Last week, I got notified of another bill that would bring us over the $10K upper limit to nearly $11K.

When I pushed back, I was informed that we were almost done with the process.  When I requested that in light of this, we agree that this be the last bill, they indicated that they could not agree to that.  Interestingly, they did not offer the courtesy discount again nor did they try to do anything to help me feel more comfortable with the situation.

On Friday, I was informed that the USPTO had accepted our proof of use and now we are just waiting for the registration.  Yippee!

In light of this latest development, I asked again if we could agree (since we are over the original estimate and so close to done) to make this the last bill and Lawyer X passed my email on to their assistant to address.  I was utterly appalled.

At that point, I wrote back to Lawyer X to inform them I was very disappointed in their actions and would have expected better treatment from a friend of a friend and a professional.  I then requested that we terminate the relationship.

Rather than receive an email back apologizing for 1) going over budget and not acknowledging it, 2) passing me off to their assistant and 3) treating me like a bank account, I got a rude email back indicating that they had done an excellent job for me and would put disengagement documentation together immediately.

So, I ask you, how do you know upfront if a vendor truly has your best interests at heart or if they are simply out to make as much money off you as possible?  Let me know your thoughts in the Comments below (and if you have a great lawyer who also cares about his Client relationships, feel free to let me know that too!).

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  • It
    sickened me to read it, because in the ten years since I moved sideways from journalism to business and non-profit, I have encountered so many instances of people acting
    badly, and treating others in an impersonal way, without consideration, backing out of deals, not honoring commitments, etc – and not owning their behavior. The one thing I try to do, or am mindful of, though I can’t always pull it off, is to put it in writing in advance. I almost always write a follow up email with terms and guidelines. The lawyer did not treat you well, and was not honoring, and of course didn’t see his or her own misdeeds, including the shabbiness at the end. There doesn’t seem any way to get around it, it happens. Sorry.

    • jenerositymktg

      Yes, Heathcliff. It is really sad. I try to take solace in knowing that I would never treat anyone this poorly and that I can go to sleep at night feeling good about myself. Unfortunately, in this instance, there was no way to put it in writing. It was more of an estimate but I assumed with the lawyer’s many years of experience they would have been able to be pretty accurate and also take into account the situation. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Expensive lesson learned…

  • Andrew J. levison

    I am a trademark and copyright licensing attorney. If a client requests a full trademark search for a proposed trademark with the acknowledged search firm, Thomson – Reuters, the cost of the search and for the review of the search by me should cost between $2000 and $2500. This would include the cost of the search about $700.00) and the time to review it and report to the client about whether the proposed trademark is cleared for filing. The filing fee for a trademark application is either $275.00 0r $325.00 depending upon whether the attorney may use an identification of the goods or services from the Trademark Manual Of Identification of Goods and Services or not. The time for discussing the filing with a client, preparing and filing a trademark application should be around three hours (at my billing rate this would be $1050.00). Unless you were issued an Office Action by the Trademark Office Examining attorney, to which your lawyer would have had to prepare and file a response in relation to your application, the amount you have been charged is far in excess of the actual cost for filing a trademark application and watching it through to the issuance of the Registration Certificate. In summary the process from start to finish (search, filing, monitoring the file through the issuance of the Registration Certificate) shuold
    not have cost any more than $5000.00. Of course the lawyer X may have been charging you at a higher rate per hour, in which case the costs would be much higher. Hope this sheds some light on the issue. To answer your original question – you do not know if the people you rely upon for help have your back, but better homework on your part may have saved you a great deal of cost for the project – Andy (AndrewLevison@comcast.net)

    • jenerositymktg

      Thank you so much, Andrew. Yes, trust me, I know I should have done more homework. As a first time entrepreneur I am (sometimes regretfully) learning as I go. That said, I really appreciate the above explanation as it at least confirms for me that I am not crazy that this expense was indeed outrageous! 🙂

  • Andrew J. levison

    I was happy to provide the info to you. If you have any other IP needs feel free to contact me. I don’t turn the meter on until we decide there is a need to do so.

    • jenerositymktg

      Thanks so much, Andrew. I may take you up on that! 🙂

  • Andrew J. levison

    I would love to help – Andy

  • Heather Fineman

    Marc Fineman with Levenfeld Pearlstein in Chicago is one of the best and most honest patent, copyright, and trademark lawyers out there. Then again, I am partial, I am married to him! Let us know if you need any help and remember “you got friends in Chicago” you should tell that to lawyer X 🙂

    • jenerositymktg

      Thanks so much, Heather! I really appreciate that. 🙂 Hope all is going great with the app launch!!!

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