Can I trademark a name for free?

You can not register a trademark for free. However, you can establish something known as a "common law trademark" for free, simply by opening for business. The benefit of relying on common law trademark rights is that it's free, and you don't need to do any specific work filling out forms, etc.

This information was provided by our founding attorney, Xavier Morales, Esq. 

In short...

Can you officially trademark a name for free? No.
Can you get some of the protections of having a trademark for free? Yes.

Limitations of a Free, "Common Law" Trademark

The biggest limitation to using a common law trademark as your only level protection is the geographic limit. As I explained in this article, a free/common law trademark only applies for your geographic area:

Take the case of Burger King in Mattoon, Illinois. The owners established a common law trademark for the BURGER KING mark before the national (now global) chain appeared. But because the owners didn’t file for a federal trademark, they had rights only in their local area. The global “BURGER KING” brand cannot enter Mattoon, Illinois, because of the established local trademark. But there is little else the original Burger King owners can do. (Read more)

Registering a Mark

In order to register a trademark, you must at pay a nonrefundable government filing fee to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Although the USPTO does provide the necessary forms to apply for a trademark on their website, it is a complicated process with numerous pitfalls that could prevent an application from being approved.

A trademark attorney will search USPTO databases as well as unregistered “common law” trademarks that could impede your ability to register your name. Attorneys can also determine the most suitable way to describe your products or services, as well as the appropriate classes and categories to register your trademark under.

How Much Does Trademark Registration Cost?

So, if you're not quite comfortable relying on common law trademark rights, how much will it cost to trademark a name? Here's a simple breakdown:

Government Filing Fee (per class)$350
Attorney Search & Filing Fee$895
Total Fee$1,245

Read more in our full guide on the cost to trademark a name.


No, you cannot officially trademark a name for free. You can get some protections of having a trademark for free under the "Common Law" trademark, but it has limitations, especially in terms of geographic reach.

A "Common Law" trademark is a type of protection you can get for free. However, it only applies to your geographic area. For example, if you establish a common law trademark in a specific city, it will only protect your trademark within that city.

While you can rely on common law trademark rights, they have limitations, particularly in terms of geographic reach. If you want broader protection, you should consider registering your trademark with the USPTO.

Xavier Morales, Esq.

About the Author

Xavier Morales, Esq.

Mr. Morales founded his trademark law practice in January 2007 with the goal of providing intellectual property expertise to entrepreneurs and businesses around the country. Since then, he has filed more than 6,000 trademarks with the USPTO. You can learn more about Xavier here.

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