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How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Business Name?

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As a small business owner, you might give the highest priority to your business’s physical assets—such as your equipment, inventory, and any buildings you own. However, less tangible assets—your intellectual property—can also be very important for a small business. Your business name, slogan, and logo—anything that distinguishes your business’s goods or services from others in a commercial setting—are all eligible for trademark protection.

Registering a trademark has numerous benefits for your business, and can prevent competitors from using your business assets. However, trademark registration can also be complicated and costly. Here, we’ll describe the main stages of the process and the costs associated with each so you’ll understand exactly how much it costs to trademark a business name. We’ll also identify ways to save money on trademark registration.

Overview of trademark registration

A trademark is a name, phrase, logo, or symbol that distinguishes the goods or services of one company from those of another in commerce. A trademark is different from copyrights and patents which protect other types of intellectual property assets. The business name McDonald’s® is an example of a trademark, and so is the company’s advertising slogan, “I’m lovin’ it.”

In the U.S., there are two levels of trademark registration—state and federal. Trademarking your business name at the state level is relatively simple and inexpensive, but offers only limited legal protection. On the other hand, registering your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is more complicated and costly but offers much more legal protection.

By registering your trademark federally, you can prevent anyone else from using it nationwide. You also earn the right to print ® next to your trademarked assets, putting everyone on notice that you have legal rights to the trademark.

How much does it cost to trademark a name?

The basic cost to trademark a business name ranges from $225 to $600 per trademark class. This is the cost to submit your trademark application to the USPTO. The easiest and least expensive way to register your trademark is online, through the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). Remember that you can only register one trademark per application.

There are a few different types* of trademark applications, each with different fees:

  • TEAS Plus: $225 per trademark class

  • TEAS RF: $275 per trademark class

  • TEAS Regular: $400 per trademark class

[*NOTE: The paper application, which was $600 per trademark class, is no longer an option effective Feb. 15, 2020, under a USPTO rule change.]

TEAS Plus has the least expensive application process, but you also have to meet more requirements to be able to use that application. You must select from among the USPTO’s list of pre-approved trademark classes. Also, you must pay the per-class filing fee up front, and agree to communicate with the USPTO exclusively by email and the online TEAS system.

TEAS RF is similar, except you don’t have to choose your goods and services up front. You can request a custom class of goods or services if you feel your trademark doesn’t fit well into one of the existing categories.

Finally, the most expensive application, TEAS Regular, is for applicants who want custom classes and the option to receive paper correspondence from the USPTO lawyers who are reviewing your application.

Remember that USPTO fees change from time to time, so it’s best to check before you begin trademark registration.

Additional costs of trademarking a business name

The costs noted above are for a basic trademark application and assume that you’re not using a lawyer’s assistance. Here are additional factors that will increase your cost of trademarking a business name:

Choosing more than one trademark class

Before filing your trademark application, you’ll need to choose the class or classes of goods and services to which your trademark belongs. Trademarks provide legal protection against infringement only for the category or categories of goods or services that you identify in your application. For example, the skincare company “Dove” holds a trademark in the toiletries class of goods, but the chocolate brand “Dove” holds a trademark in the confections and chocolate class of goods.

For each additional trademark class that you choose, the application fees noted above will double. At the moment, the USPTO recognizes 45 different trademark classes.

Drawing your trademark

In most cases, you’ll need to submit a drawing of your trademark along with your application. This could be a simple line drawing or a more sophisticated rendering, but it must meet the USPTO’s requirements for trademark drawings.

There are two types of drawings:

  • Standard character drawing: A standard character drawing depicts only text and is not linked to a certain font, style, or color. An example is the word “Nike” in plain text.

  • Special form drawing: A stylized form drawing depicts a logo, design, or symbol of a specific font, size, style, or color. An example is the Nike logo.

In general, you can only include one drawing per application. If you want to protect the text of your business name, as well as the logo, then you’ll need to fill out two separate applications, which will add to your cost.

Standard character drawings are simple and probably won’t cost you anything, but special form drawings might require the work of a graphic designer or illustrator. In such cases, be prepared to spend $250 to $750, or even more, depending on the complexity of the trademark.

Allegation of use

Most business owners who apply for a trademark are already using their trademark in commerce. However, you can also file for a trademark on the basis that you intend to use your trademark in commerce in the future. If you file on an intent-to-use basis, you’ll need to submit an additional form later when you begin using your trademark.

This form—called the Statement of Use or Amendment to Allege Use—must typically be submitted no later than six months after the USPTO approves your initial application. The cost to file this form online is $100 per class of goods or services.

International trademark registration

If you use your trademark on a website, in social media, online advertising, or other places on the internet, international trademark registration is highly recommended. You can file online for international trademark registration through TEAS for a filing fee of $100 per trademark class.

Under a treaty called the Madrid Protocol, international trademark registration protects your mark in the 80 countries that are signatories, of which the U.S. is one. Each foreign country that you designate in your international trademark application will review your application and decide whether to approve it based on the trademark laws that apply in that country.

Responding to trademark office actions or oppositions

Once you submit your trademark application, it can take about six to 12 months, or even longer, for the USPTO to approve it. In some cases, your application might be further delayed if the reviewing attorney has questions or if someone files an opposition. As long as you approved electronic communications in your initial filing, you’ll receive an email if the attorney has any questions, and you should act quickly to address them. Responding to these questions, called office actions, can be time-consuming and might require a lawyer’s help, which can add to your trademarking fees.

The USPTO gives the public a chance to respond to approved trademark applications. Another company, usually a larger and better-funded one, might file an opposition, claiming that you shouldn’t be granted the trademark.

According to New York City trademark attorney Jeremy Peter Green, oppositions are filed in about one of every 25 trademark applications that he files on behalf of clients. Responding to such oppositions can be very difficult without an attorney’s help. Depending on the reason for the opposition, lawyers can charge somewhere between $1,000 to several thousand dollars to respond to an opposition.

Costs to maintain your trademark

Maintaining your trademark can cost between $550 to $1,250. Filing for a trademark is not a one-and-done process. You need to maintain your trademark by showing that your business is continuing to use it in connection with the classes that you chose in your initial application.

These are the periodic trademark filings you’ll need to make, along with the filing fee for each:

  • Between the fifth and sixth year after registration: File a Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse, also called a Section 8 affidavit. In this form, you’ll show that you’re still using your trademark in business. The filing fee is $125 per class for online submission.

  • Between the ninth and 10th year after registration: File a Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse and an Application for Renewal. A trademark expires after 10 years, so you’ll need to submit a renewal application along with the Declaration of Use form. Between every ninth and 10th year after this, you’ll need to submit these forms again. The online filing fee is $425 per class.

  • (Optional) Declaration of Incontestability: This form, also called a Section 15 affidavit, enhances your rights in your trademark and prevents people from raising common legal challenges to your trademark. There are some restrictions on using this form. For instance, you must be using your trademark for at least five consecutive years before you can file for incontestability. The filing fee is $200 for online submission.

If you provided an email address and authorized email communication in your original trademark application, then you’ll receive email reminders from the USPTO before these deadlines.

Costs to hire a trademark lawyer

Given the complexity of trademark registration, many small business owners opt to hire a trademark lawyer. Hiring a lawyer comes with many benefits and less personal time spent on the trademark application process, but also will increase the costs of trademarking a business name.

Trademark lawyers typically charge a flat rate for a basic trademark search and registration. They might charge an hourly rate to respond to office actions or oppositions. Based on your trademark and where you’re located, you can expect to pay between $500 and $2,000 for an initial trademark search and application.

You can find your own lawyer or use an online legal service such as LegalZoom to get help with trademark registration. On LegalZoom, you can file an initial trademark application for a flat fee of $199 per class, plus USPTO fees. Another legal service you may find helpful is UpCounsel, which has a network of lawyers who work on more complex cases, and they bill a flat fee between $600 and $800 for trademark registration.

How to lower trademarking costs

Basic trademark registration fees aren’t too high; but things can add up, particularly if you have a more complicated application.

Here are a few ways to lower the costs of trademarking a business name:

  • Opt for state registration: Registering a trademark with your state, instead of the USPTO, can significantly reduce costs and the time it takes to process your application. However, state registration means that you’ll receive legal protection against others using your mark only within the state. You will not be protected nationwide.

  • Hire a trademark lawyer: Obtaining legal representation right off the bat, starting with a trademark search, can save you time and money down the line. As Ruth Carter, a trademark lawyer in Phoenix, says, “It’s often worth it to hire a lawyer to do the preliminary search to see if the trademark you want to register is even available. I’ve seen people try to do it themselves, and they ended up wasting $225 in filing fees trying to get a trademark that they couldn’t have because they didn’t know how to do a thorough search.”

  • Submit all filings online: The USPTO doesn’t allow you to submit trademark filings by paper anymore. Although TEAS might take some getting used to, you can save some serious money by filing everything online.

The bottom line

Ultimately, there are several different factors that can affect the cost to trademark a business name. The number of trademark classes, your mode of filing (state or federal), and whether you’re already using the trademark can all affect your price. In addition, the decision to hire a trademark lawyer will affect your total cost. Fortunately, filing for trademark protection is usually within reach even for smaller business budgets. And when all is said and done, you’ll be glad for the increased legal protection that your new trademark will give you and your business.

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How to Find the Right Business Coach — and Avoid the Wrong One

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At its best, business coaching can connect you with a mentor and supporter who helps you generate ideas, make plans and execute on them.

But at its worst, a business coaching offer can cost you time, energy and money — without much to show for it.

Here’s what to expect from a business coach, how to find a coach that suits you and how to spot red flags.

What a business coach can do

Business coaches draw on their professional experience to help you set and achieve your own business goals.

“I’m here to help you, and I’m here to raise your level of knowledge in whatever way I can,” says Gary Robinson, who chairs the Memphis, Tennessee, chapter of SCORE. SCORE offers free business mentoring for entrepreneurs nationwide.

Some ways a business coach or mentor might do this include:

  • Offering feedback on your ideas and suggesting new ones.

  • Giving you templates and other tools that help you make plans.

  • Connecting you with resources in your region or your industry.

  • Giving you deadlines and holding you accountable to them.

Some business coaches may also offer coursework or group training sessions on particular topics, like sales.

Working with a coach should help you identify opportunities you hadn’t seen before or develop new strategies for pursuing those opportunities, says Sophia Sunwoo, who coaches women and nonbinary entrepreneurs through Ascent Strategy, her New York City-based firm.

“[Coaches] don’t necessarily have to have all the answers,” Sunwoo says. “But they are the people that know how to maneuver and create a bunch of different thinking paths for their clients.”

What a business coach can’t do

A business coach isn’t the same as a consultant, whom you would hire to perform a specific task. A coach or mentor could look over your business plan, for example, but they wouldn’t write it for you.

“If you were to hire me as a consultant, you would expect me to roll up my sleeves and pitch in and work with you to get things done, and you would pay me for that,” Robinson says. Coaches, on the other hand, “try to show you how to do things so that you can do them [yourself].”

Business coaches are also not therapists, Sunwoo says. Entrepreneurship can be emotionally and mentally taxing, but it’s important that coaches refer clients to mental health professionals when necessary.

Business coaching red flags

If a business coaching opportunity “promises guaranteed income, large returns, or a ‘proven system,’ it’s likely a scam,” the Federal Trade Commission warned in a December 2020 notice.

In 2018, the FTC took legal action against My Online Business Education and Digital Altitude, which purported to help entrepreneurs start online businesses. The FTC alleged these companies charged participants more and more money to work through their programs, with few customers earning the promised returns.

In both cases, these operations paid settlements, and the FTC issued refunds to tens of thousands of their customers in 2021 and 2022.

To avoid offers like these, the FTC recommends that you:

  • Be wary of anyone who tries to upsell you right away or pressures you to make a quick decision.

  • Search for reviews of the person or organization online.

  • Research your coach’s background to see if they’ve accomplished as much as they say.

Sunwoo says to also be skeptical of one-size-fits-all solutions. A coach should customize their advice to your personality and skill set, not ask you to conform to theirs.

“The moment that a business coach pushes you to do something that is really not compatible with your personality or your beliefs or values,” Sunwoo says, “that’s a huge problem.”

How to find the right coach — maybe for free

Here’s how to find a coach that will be as helpful as possible.

Determine whether you need advice or to hire someone. A coach isn’t the right fit for every business owner. If you need hands-on help organizing your business finances, for instance, you may need a bookkeeping service or accountant. And take legal questions to an attorney.

Seek out the right expertise. A good coach should be aware of what they don’t know. If they’re not a good fit for your needs — whether that’s expertise in a particular industry or a specialized skill set, like marketing — they might be able to refer you to someone who’s a better fit.

Consider free options. There may be some in your city or region:

  • SCORE offers free in-person and virtual mentoring in all 50 states, plus Guam, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

  • See if your city has a Small Business Development Center, Veterans Business Outreach Center or a Women’s Business Center. All are funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and offer free training and advising for entrepreneurs.

  • Do an online search for city- or state-specific programs. Philadelphia, for example, offers a business coaching program designed for entrepreneurs who want to qualify for particular business loan programs. Business incubators often offer courses or coaching.

Make sure your coach is invested in you. They should take the time to learn about you, your business and its unique needs, then leverage their own experiences and creativity to help you.

“I’m on your team now,” Robinson says of his clients. “Let’s do this together and make this a success.”

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Are There SBA Loans for the Self-Employed?

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Many of the same SBA loans are available to both self-employed people and more formally structured businesses, such as limited liability companies and corporations. However, self-employed individuals, like sole proprietors and independent contractors, might face a higher barrier to entry for having limited credit history, inconsistent revenue or no collateral. If they can’t qualify for an SBA loan, other business financing options are available.

Who qualifies as self-employed?

Sole proprietors, independent contractors and partnerships all fall under the self-employed category. In these cases, there is no legal distinction between the business owner and the business itself. Sole proprietors, for example, are solely responsible for their business’s gains and losses, while LLCs and corporations are legally distinct from their owners. This distinction helps protect the owners’ personal assets if their business runs into legal or financial issues.

Are self-employed SBA loans hard to get?

While a sole proprietorship is much easier to set up than an LLC or corporation, lenders may be more hesitant to finance them for a few reasons:

  • Self-employed business owners are legally responsible, as individuals, for any debt and liabilities that their businesses take on. If someone sues their business, for instance, their personal assets — not just their business — could be at stake. This makes it riskier for lenders to finance them.

  • Sole proprietorships and independent contracting businesses may have lower revenue or less collateral to offer since they’re often a business of one. This could make it more difficult for them to prove that they can pay back the loan, plus interest. And it may require more paperwork.

  • Some banks set lending minimums that surpass what a self-employed business owner is looking for, either because the business owner doesn’t need that much funding or doesn’t qualify for it.

  • Since there is no legal distinction between the self-employed business owner and their business, they may lack business credit history. To establish business credit, you’ll want to register the business, obtain an employer identification number and open a separate business bank account and credit card to keep your business and personal finances separate.

SBA loans for the self-employed

SBA microloan: Best for small loans and more lenient requirements

Applying for an SBA microloan is a great option for self-employed business owners, especially if they’ve been turned down by traditional banks and don’t need more than $50,000 in funding. In fact, the average SBA microloan is around $13,000, according to the SBA. SBA microloans are administered by nonprofit, community-based organizations that can also help train applicants in business practices and management. And because the loans are small, the application process may be easier — applicants may have limited credit history and typically don’t need as high of a credit score as they do for an SBA 7(a) loan.

SBA 7(a) small loan: May not require collateral

Funds from the SBA’s most popular 7(a) lending program can be used for a variety of business-related purposes, such as working capital or purchasing equipment. While the maximum SBA 7(a) loan amount is $5 million, SBA 7(a) small loan amounts don’t exceed $350,000. And if the 7(a) small loan is for $25,000 or less, the SBA doesn’t require lenders to take collateral.

SBA Express loan: Best for quicker application process

SBA Express loans are a type of 7(a) loan for businesses that need quick financing and no more than $500,000. The SBA responds to these loan applications within 36 hours as opposed to the standard five to 10 days, which may speed up the process for borrowers working with non-SBA-delegated lenders. Additionally, borrowers might not have to fill out as much paperwork — the SBA only requires Form 1919. Beyond that, lenders use their own forms and procedures.

SBA loan alternatives

Online lenders

Self-employed business owners turned down for SBA or traditional bank loans may be able to qualify for financing with an online lender. These lenders offer options such as term loans and lines of credit, and they often process applications faster and have more lenient requirements. However, applicants should expect to pay significantly more in interest than they would with an SBA loan.

Business credit cards

Not only can business credit cards help build your business credit history and pay for everyday business purchases, but they can also help finance larger purchases (within your approved credit limit). And if you qualify for a credit card with a 0% introductory APR offer, you’ll have multiple months to pay off the balance interest-free. Just make sure you’re able to pay off your purchase before the intro offer ends and a variable APR sets in.

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9 Best Factoring Companies for Trucking

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Factoring companies for trucking, also called freight factoring companies, give trucking companies cash in exchange for outstanding invoices. They can be helpful to trucking companies that need working capital quickly or don’t have the staff to manage invoicing and collections, but be cautious about potentially unclear costs and contracts.

Here are our picks for freight factoring companies, as well as additional information to help you decide whether this kind of small-business loan is right for your business.

Best trucking factoring companies for funding speed

These factoring companies for trucking offer some of the fastest funding times.

Apex Capital

Time to funding: Minutes via its proprietary Blynk payment service; otherwise, same-day and next-day funding.

Good to know: Company factors freight invoices on nights, weekends and holidays. Its proprietary Blynk payment service, launched in 2020, allows customers to get paid via debit, Zelle or bank transfer. Apex specializes in small and midsize trucking companies.

Headquarters: Fort Worth, Texas.

TAFS

Time to funding: One hour during the week.

Good to know: Company’s mobile app allows customers to submit invoices to be paid right from a smartphone. TAFS is a recourse-only factoring company, meaning that if the customer ultimately doesn’t pay your invoice, you pay the factoring company. In other words, you bear the risk of nonpayment. TAFS does factoring in several other industries too.

Headquarters: Olathe, Kansas.

RTS Financial

Time to funding: Within 24 hours.

Good to know: Offers discounts to veterans. Also does factoring in distribution, staffing, oilfield, textiles and manufacturing industries. The company’s RTS Pro Factoring app lets customers upload invoices, submit invoices in bundles, use the camera to scan invoices and access reports. It also helps find fuel, tire and maintenance discounts.

Headquarters: Overland Park, Kansas.

TBS Factoring

Time to funding: The same day you deliver your load.

Good to know: TBS offers a program in which you can finance 50% of your truck insurance down payment through eight weekly payments from your factored invoices. The company also offers bookkeeping services.

Headquarters: Oklahoma City.

Best for trying freight factoring for free

These factoring companies for trucking offer customers a chance to use the service before fully committing.

eCapital

Time to funding: First funding takes up to 48 hours but subsequent invoices process faster.

Good to know: Customers get an automatic, preapproved line of credit of up to $2,500 per truck. Transferring money from eCapital to your bank account is $10. The company also offers a 90-day free trial. Fees start at 2%.

Headquarters: Aventura, Florida.

Thunder Funding

Time to funding: Typically within 24 hours.

Good to know: Company says a $1,000 invoice will likely cost $25 to $40 (2.5% to 4%) in factoring fees. It also waives the factoring fees for your first invoice as sort of a free trial.

Headquarters: Carlsbad, California.

Best for upfront factoring pricing

Few factoring companies for trucking disclose their prices. These companies offer at least a peek.

OTR Capital

Time to funding: Within 24 hours.

Good to know: Company does recourse and nonrecourse factoring. OTR Capital says it funds 96% of the invoice value, implying a 4% fee.

Headquarters: Roswell, Georgia.

Porter Freight Funding

Time to funding: Within 24 hours and sometimes sooner.

Good to know: Discounts available if you sign a six-month or one-year contract. Recourse factoring fees start at 3%.

Headquarters: Birmingham, Alabama.

CoreFund Capital

Time to funding: Same day.

Good to know: Fees start at 2%. Works with startups and trucking companies with one to 100 trucks. No mobile app available.

Headquarters: Weatherford, Texas.

What is freight factoring?

Freight factoring is a process in which a factoring company buys your invoices at a discount and collects payment from the customers on those invoices. The arrangement creates a source of fast cash for the trucking company.

There are two types of factoring companies for trucking:

  1. Recourse factors. If the customer ultimately doesn’t pay the invoice, the trucking company pays the factoring company. The trucking company bears the risk of nonpayment.

  2. Nonrecourse factors. If the customer ultimately doesn’t pay the invoice, the trucking company doesn’t have to pay the invoice. The factoring company bears the risk of nonpayment, which is why nonrecourse factoring typically costs more than recourse factoring.

Do I need a factoring company for trucking?

A factoring company for trucking can be a source of quick cash, which could come in handy if a trucking company is having trouble making payroll or paying other bills, or if it doesn’t want to take out a loan or other financing. In addition, companies that don’t have the time or staff to deal with collecting money from customers might find factoring attractive.

Pros

  • Fast cash.

  • Flexible — factor only what you need when you need it.

  • Credit score doesn’t matter.

Cons

  • May cost more than bank financing.

  • Company may come after trucking company if customers don’t pay.

How much do factoring companies charge?

Trucking factoring companies buy accounts receivable at a discount, meaning that trucking companies selling invoices won’t receive the full value of those invoices. The size of that discount is one of the key factors to consider when choosing a factoring company for trucking.

However, it’s rare to get an upfront price from factoring companies because they typically base their discount rates on a variety of factors:

  • Whether you want recourse or nonrecourse factoring.

  • Who your customers are.

  • The volume of the invoices.

  • Whether you want to pay a flat factoring fee (the same percentage fee for every invoice) or a tiered factoring rate (a lower fee on invoices that pay quickly and a higher fee on invoices that pay more slowly).

  • Whether the company also charges invoice submission fees or invoice processing fees.

For these reasons, it’s important to review the contract terms of any factoring agreement and make sure you understand the costs before you sign up.

Alternatives to freight factoring

Freight factoring is just one way to borrow money quickly. These other options might be viable alternatives for your trucking business.

Business credit cards

Borrowing money using a credit card gives you the opportunity to keep 100% of what your customers pay you. Credit cards can carry various rewards, such as travel miles or cash back, and a business gas credit card may make sense for a trucking company. But be sure you can pay your credit card balances off in full, because the interest charges may be higher than what you’d pay in factoring fees.

Business line of credit

If you need access to ongoing working capital, drawing from a business line of credit might be cheaper than factoring to cover short-term costs. You’ll likely have a higher spending limit with a line of credit than with a business credit card, but there may also be higher qualification hurdles to jump in terms of credit score and financial performance.

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