The following is an edited transcript of my video, TEAS PLUS Trademark Application vs TEAS STANDARD.
One question that comes up a lot when people go to file a trademark application at the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office) is TEAS PLUS versus TEAS STANDARD application forms. This is pretty technical information, but it’s also quite important, because it affects not only the cost of the application in terms of the government filing fees, but the filing requirements and the way that the application may be handled as it moves forward.
A TEAS Plus application has a lowered filing fee, currently $225 per class (as of July 2020). But, in exchange for the government giving you a lower filing fee you have to meet certain requirements upfront, and throughout the application process, and there is a penalty if those requirements are not met. There are a variety of technical requirements that must be met when the application is submitted, but the most important one by far is the limitation when using TEAS Plus forms in describing the goods and services. When you file TEAS Plus, you can only select from the pre-approved list of descriptions of goods and services that the USPTO publishes.
There are many great descriptions and useful things on the pre-approved list, but it has significant limitations, particularly in many industries that are nuanced or complicated to describe. As a result, I generally avoid TEAS Plus applications and favor TEAS Standard applications. A TEAS Standard application has a filing fee today of $275 per class – $50 more per class than TEAS Plus. But, if you file a TEAS Standard you never have to worry about the penalty of failing to meet the requirements; if you file a TEAS Plus and you don’t meet the requirements at some point along the way, you’re penalized $125. So the potential penalty is far greater than the difference in the two filing fees.
Due to the limitation in the description of goods and services – and the description of goods and services is a really, really important part of the application, and can be very important in dealing with likelihood of confusion arguments and differentiating one mark from another mark – and because the penalty is so much more than the difference is at the outset, I don’t like the risks and limitations of using TEAS Plus. That’s my personal style. Others may have other styles; I welcome their comments.
Maybe one day, if you have an alternate preference and you only use TEAS Plus, tweet at me, maybe we should have an online podcast debate as to the pros and cons of TEAS Plus versus TEAS Standard. I mean, I’m half kidding, but I’m half serious, because trademark application is much more of an art form than a science. There is not necessarily one right way or one wrong way to go about it; there’s a lot of nuance and a lot of complexity, and that’s why people are best served – Applicants are best served, business owners are best served – when they use experienced trademark attorneys to handle these things for them.
If you want more details about this and the entire trademark application process, there is much more information about the entire application process, USPTO forms, filing fees, and why it’s so important to file your trademark with the USPTO in the first place, all contained in my book, Building a Bold Brand.