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In 2023, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) considered a significant fee increase affecting trademarks with non-pre-approved goods and services for 2025. This development has pivotal implications for trademark applicants, especially those managing multiple classes of goods. Understanding these changes is crucial for efficient and cost-effective trademark registration. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the new fee structure and strategic advice for navigating the updated system.

I have conducted an interview with US trademark attorney Kenneth Suzan, who is co-host with me on our podcast IP Fridays:

What Prompted the USPTO Fee Increase? The USPTO’s decision to increase fees is part of a broader initiative to streamline operations and enhance the quality of trademark registrations. The specific hike in fees for non-pre-approved items aims to encourage applicants to use the Manual of Acceptable Identifications of Goods and Services, thereby reducing the examination time and improving the accuracy of trademark registrations.

Understanding the Fee Increase Effective from the announcement in 2023, the USPTO has introduced an additional surcharge of $200 per class for applications that do not use the verbatim terms from the USPTO’s pre-approved list. This change primarily affects those who submit custom descriptions of goods and services that require additional examination and approval.

Impact on Trademark Applicants For businesses and individuals filing trademark applications, this fee increase could substantially raise the cost of securing trademark protections, particularly for those with goods and services spanning multiple classes. It’s especially impactful for international applicants who may use broader terms to describe their goods and services in their home countries.

Strategies to Avoid Higher Fees

  1. Utilize the USPTO’s ID Manual: Before filing, consult the USPTO’s Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual to find approved terms that closely match your products.
  2. Pre-Application Review: Consider hiring a trademark attorney or consultant to review your goods and services descriptions for compliance with USPTO standards.
  3. Plan for Multi-Class Applications: If you’re applying in several classes, ensure each class adheres to the pre-approved list to avoid cumulative surcharges.
  4. Regular Updates on USPTO Policies: Stay informed about any changes to the USPTO’s policies or the ID Manual as these can affect your trademark strategy.

Legal Considerations When drafting your trademark application, it’s critical to balance legal protection with cost-efficiency. Incorrectly describing your goods and services not only leads to higher fees but could also weaken your legal protection or delay the registration process.

Conclusion: The USPTO’s fee increase for non-pre-approved goods and services marks a significant shift in the trademark registration landscape. By adhering to the updated guidelines and strategically planning your applications, you can mitigate the impact of these fee increases on your business. As always, consulting with a professional experienced in trademark law can provide tailored advice and ensure that your intellectual property is protected efficiently and cost-effectively.

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