Trademarking on a Budget: 7 Strategies

Building a brand is an exciting journey for startups and small businesses. However, protecting that brand identity through trademarks can seem daunting and costly. Budget-conscious entrepreneurs, don't worry! Here are some creative strategies to help you secure trademarks without breaking the bank:

1. Prioritize Your Trademarks

Not every aspect of your brand needs immediate trademark protection. Start by identifying your most valuable assets. Is it your unique business name? A distinctive product design? An impactful slogan that encapsulates your brand essence? Focus on securing trademarks for these core elements first.

2. Conduct a DIY Trademark Search

Before filing a trademark application, it’s crucial to check for existing conflicts. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers a free Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This online tool allows you to search for similar trademarks that are already registered. While it’s not a substitute for a professional search, TESS provides a good starting point to identify potential conflicts.

3. Consider Filing on Your Own

The USPTO website provides detailed instructions and resources to guide you through the trademark application process. If you’re comfortable navigating legal documents and procedures, this can be a cost-effective option. However, trademark law can be complex. Consider attending USPTO workshops or consulting free legal resources offered by SCORE or the Small Business Administration (SBA) before embarking on a DIY filing.

4. Start Local, Expand Later

Trademark protection typically applies within a specific geographic territory. Consider starting with a trademark application in your local state, which can be significantly cheaper than a federal filing. As your business grows, you can explore registering your trademark nationally or even internationally.

5. Utilize Online Legal Platforms

Several online legal platforms offer trademark filing services at competitive rates. These services can guide you through the application process, conduct basic conflict searches, and provide some legal guidance. This can be a good middle ground between DIY filing and hiring a traditional trademark attorney.

6. Build Brand Recognition

Strong brand recognition can help establish your ownership of a particular name or logo, even if it’s not a substitute for a registered trademark. Utilizing social media and other marketing channels can strengthen your case if you face trademark infringement issues down the line.

7. Collaborate with Other Businesses

Consider partnering with complementary businesses on marketing campaigns or co-branded products. This collaboration can not only expand your reach but also potentially leverage their existing trademark registrations for certain elements you might share.


Trademarking your brand doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. By prioritizing your needs, utilizing available resources, and considering strategic partnerships, you can protect your brand identity effectively and affordably. Embrace these smart strategies to secure your trademarks and build a strong foundation for your brand’s future success.