Sued Over Trademark Filing Fees

Apparently LegalZoom has been advertising to its customers that the trademark filing fee is $325.00, when it was actually $275.00,  an obvious misrepresentation. Apparently they have been doing this since 2005. This has resulted in a consumer class action suit to recover the $50.00 overcharge on behalf of all customers who have paid the higher fee. Here is a good summary of the details of the case.  LegalZoom has since changed its web site to characterize the additional $50.00 fee as an administrative fee. If a law firm made this kind of misrepresentation on its web site it would receive a sanction from the bar for misrepresentation. This is another example of the lack of regulatory control over non-lawyer providers of legal services and the absence of any accountability other than the response of the market -- which is in inefficient as consumers  rarely have sufficient knowledge to understand the nature of a misrepresentation.  LegalZoom's claim that a consumer can save thousands of dollars by using its service, rather than lawyer, assumes that somehow the services of LegalZoom and an attorney are identical. Nothing could be further from the truth. Caveat Emptor!!!

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Michael Mason - December 11, 2008 2:53 PM

I was a supervising attorney at the US Trademark office for eight years before going into private practice. I am now a partner at a law firm that offers trademark services in our brick and mortar office *and* through our online web site. An overwhelming majority of time in trademark prosecution counseling is spent determining what goods and services the client needs (vs wants) protected. The description of those goods or services determines the govt fees the applicant pays. In 2005, the Office started TEAS Plus where if one files electronically, he pays $275 per International Class. The catch is that you MUST use and keep the goods/service descriptions already approved by the Office. If there is no "ready made" description that accurately identifies your product or service, you create your own and pay the $325 fee per class. In sum, determining which US trademark govt filing fee is applicable ($325 vs $275), many times involves consulting with the client about his goods or services. LegalZoom cannot do this without walking that tightrope of providing legal advice.

Uncle Monk - February 6, 2009 1:11 PM

Of course every litigant feels that his attorneys over charged him. But it seems disingenuous to trumpet the merits of the Legalzoom consumer class action suit which was likely filed by an attorney.

At issue is the $50 overcharge. In my legal dealings, I have NEVER had a disagreement over fees for $50 (or less). I fired my lawyer 23 years ago when I received 3 quarter charges to set an appoint to come in to his office for a meeting. Nothing legal was discussed(it was his receptionist) and at his $200/hr, I would have been out $150. I transferred my anger to representing myself( judicial finding for me! ) and haven't looked back since. My lawyer killed his 'golden goose', tough lesson form me.

My only regret is that I can't recall his name, or I'd put his initials here to remind him of his mistake! But his partner was Robert and his office was in Hauppauge, NY

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