Trademark Agent

Trademark Agent

Start-up cost:  $1,000–$1,500

Potential earnings:  $40,000–$65,000

Typical fees:  $175–$250 fl at fee ($500–$10,000 for larger corporations)

Advertising: Business publications, direct mail, referrals, networking, Web site

Qualifi cations: Extensive experience in trademark or patent fi eld, familiarity with specialized computer searches, law degree helpful

Equipment needed: Cell phone, computer with Internet access, fax, business cards, letterhead, envelopes

Staff required:  No

Hidden costs: Insurance, Internet service provider fees, subscription-only services

What You Do

The business cliché of today is that perception is reality. Whether you agree with that idea or not, the image of a product or service is undeniably a factor in its value. Since medieval times, a trademark has been a way of protecting an essential element of that image, the name. Since medieval times, however, an incredibly large number of names have been trademarked, and your clients need to know if they can call their stunt act Angelic Skydiving Service or if someone in Hawaii has already used that name. You will discover if the name has already been used by conducting a search of the paper records at the Trademark Office in Washington, D.C. Database information such as records from all 50 Secretaries of State is proprietary—owned by your giant competitors—so as a small business person, you must rely on detailed, cross-referenced searches in online databases. Many trademark agents specialize in a field they know well, such as tire names, for example.

What You Need

Costs are relatively low, especially if you already have a computer (add $1,000 if you don’t). The outlay of your own labor will be high for each search. If you are an attorney, you’ll likely use a computer database, but if you’re not, you’ll have to do it all manually or pay a researcher to do it for you. Charge $175–$250 per search/registry for small to medium-size businesses; by the project (typically $500–$10,000, depending on size and complexity) working for a large corpora-tion, although some companies already have attorneys on the payroll who accom-plish the same work.

Keys to Success

Skill and sometimes intuition are required to establish the validity of a given trademark. Finding the proper trademark fi les is an art. You can’t simply look up a name, like “sword,” in an index. Instead, you must consider all words with similar meanings, like “rapier” and “saber,” as well as the words with similar sounds, like “sod” and “sore.” Then you must consider designs that might include swords. It all becomes quite complicated, so be sure you enjoy minute details before embarking on this one.

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