Trademark Opposition Costs
There is an old German proverb that says if you go to the law for a sheep you lose a cow.
Trademark oppositions can become very expensive very quickly because it is an opportunity for two competitors to have a court-like battle over a trademark before it is even registered. Thus, if you find yourself in an opposition scenario you will be required to comply with filing or responding to an initial notice of opposition, complying with discovery protocol, preparing and submitting testimony and responding to or rebutting your opponent’s testimony, among other time consuming and expensive requirements.
You will likely need to hire counsel to represent you during this process and, with the many nuanced requirements plus generous extensions of time allowed by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), your expenses will could really add up.
Further, you cannot ignore the seriousness of an opposition to your trademark or you may lose the right to use your trademark, let alone enforce it against others. Or, if you hope to file an opposition against a competitor, be prepared for the decision of the TTAB to be held binding should the situation graduate to a real litigation scenario.
That is why, for better or for worse, the likely expenses involved in trademark oppositions pushes the settlement rate of such cases to over 90% in the United States–meaning, if you plan to oppose a competitor’s trademark application you should be prepared to either spend a lot of money or to settle. Likewise, if you are defending your trademark, first assess the strength of both your personal resolve and your checkbook before calling your opponent’s bluff.
There is another saying in the law that a good lawyer wins your battles and a better lawyer avoids them. Most oppositions can be avoided when good faith applicants perform a quality trademark search to identify this risk before they sink any additional resources into a branding campaign that will inevitably start a fight. If you do that, your trademark opposition costs will likely be $0.