So how well did the online legal service perform for the startup company seeking trademarks?
- They charged the same price as most attorneys for preparing trademark applications.
- The two trademark applications were denied for being merely descriptive.
- They gave no advice regarding the strength of the trademarks.
- They did not inform the founder of the risks should the trademark office turn down the marks
- They failed to ask the startup about the branding strength of the names.
- They did not determine what domain name the founder was using nor the status of the website
- No information on consequences of denial, i.e. what costs the company would incur if it had to change the names for trademarking and website development purposes, was given to the company.
This founder's experience is not a resounding plug for the effectiveness, affordability or speed of online legal services. We think technology based companies should be extremely cautious before using online legal services.
Here are some questions your business should ask before deciding to use an online legal service:
- Do we understand the process for this legal action or document?
- What happens if there’s a denial of the application or document? What additional costs will we incur?
- Will someone tell us if this is the right thing to do for our company?
- What do attorneys charge for this document/application?
- Are we at risk of having to make this application or prepare this document again? Will it cost us more in the long run?
- How critical is this document/application for our company?
If a company’s document or application involves ownership, intellectual property, branding, tax consequences, funding or getting paid, and employees or independent contractors, companies should first contact attorneys to determine costs, consequences and get affordable advice. With online legal services, the cost savings may or may not be there, the advice is likely generic if at all and the risks of using a template form may far exceed the cost of using efficient, effective counsel.
Give us a call or email about our effective, efficient legal services--we believe legal counsel should inform, educate and advise companies on risk assesment and the right road to take.