If you’re new to the idea of trademarking and studiously googling your way around the internet to gather some insight into the best route for your brand, you’ve most likely come across LegalZoom. Affordable trademarking? Contracts? What’s not to love? It might also cross your mind, is this too good to be true? Is LegalZoom legitimate? Unfortunately, what most entrepreneurs overlook as they consider the route of this fantastic-seeming-yet-faceless trademarking service is that you do get what you pay for. LegalZoom can be a helpful tool for some rudimentary basics but there’s also a reason they have an easy refund policy and don’t bill hourly as most attorneys do, you’re simply not receiving the same level of service. Let’s break down what this means for your business and time-sensitive details like trademarking and contracts.
So, what are the rudimentary basics where LegalZoom really shines? Well, they are most properly a document preparation company and you can get decent service if you are purchasing a contract and have a few, general questions. Even there, they will have a limited scope of service with what they can offer. If you have a specific question, they will most likely refer you to consult an attorney licensed in your state. Legally, unless the attorney you’re speaking with is licensed to practice in your state, they actually cannot offer you advice. If your goal is to pay a small amount for a small slice of general contract knowledge, LegalZoom is legitimate.
But what about trademarking? They do advertise trademark application preparation and that’s filed at a federal level so any attorney can technically file an application for that. They advertise that it costs 75% less than the traditional attorney route, too. So what’s the problem? Well, LegalZoom isn’t actually completing this work for you. In fact, they are connecting you with a random, independent attorney so you have no idea how thorough their skillset is in the area of trademarking. LegalZoom emphasizes all this saves you money, but what are you truly getting in return? As their footer states:
“We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.”
Ah, there’s the catch. (This catch has spurred several class-action lawsuits against them, FYI.) Essentially, LegalZoom is a general referral network and document preparation company, not a tight-knit collective of trademarking experts. Therefore, if you experience an issue, they will recommend you go seek advice from your own attorney.
This is where you truly do get what you pay for. Trademarking is nuanced, and that starts with your application. If they cannot advise you on the best application positioning during the preparation process, they’re really just serving you half of what you need. And if you’re not investing in a personalized experience with an attorney, then you will not receive thoughtful and detailed advice on how to proceed if you receive a cease and desist from another business owner. You also won’t receive personalized insight and strategic communication on your behalf if the USPTO pauses your application’s journey to ask some questions. THIS is where you may feel overwhelmed. If you don’t have a strong background in trademarking law, translating the USPTO’s legal lingo AND understanding the ramifications of your answers can lead to unnecessary application rejection. That would put you right back at the starting line with another year-long trademark application waiting game.
But there’s no mention of this on LegalZoom’s website because honestly? It’s not an attractive marketing strategy to be transparent about how the work doesn’t end once your trademark is filed. The most that LegalZoom will share is that if your trademark is rejected, they will comp you with another trademark application to try again.
Wait, what about their claim that “With attorney help, you have a 94% chance of registering a trademark.”? That does sound pretty solid, right? Well, when you read the fine print on that statement, it’s a national average for all applications submitted, NOT the approval rate that LegalZoom’s clients have experienced. Well played Legal Zoom but we’re calling you out on that.
So is LegalZoom legitimate? Yes, if you are simply looking to acquire a generic document (contract, terms & conditions, etc.) NO, if you are looking for personalized support and guidance in getting a trademark approved.
And if you are looking for that guidance along with white-glove support? You’re in the right place. Our firm has a personal 99.3% trademark registration rate. In fact, we’ve only had one client’s application get rejected in the past four years and it was because they decided to reject our advice and proceed with a faulty application. When you work with us, you have world-class communication, white-glove service, a team that actually cares about your brand. There is nothing like having a lawyer by your side who understands your brand’s mission, values and cares about your success.
Also, because we specialize in trademark law, we’re able to act as brand consultants to our clients and provide long-term vision planning and protection with their brands. Because we don’t practice other areas of law, our attention is laser-focused, we don’t miss deadlines, check-in often, and really prioritize their brand growth.
Here’s a challenge. If you’re going to inquire about trademarking with LegalZoom, inquire with us as well. With one complimentary consult, you’ll feel the difference, firsthand.
If you’re not quite at the point where you are ready to inquire because you’re still doing some research, we think you’ll love this post about how to choose a strong brand name.
*This post is for general education and does not initiate an attorney-client relationship with us. We always recommend consulting a trademark attorney for your brand’s specific needs.