Registering a trademark that you are already using is 3 to 4 times less expensive than registering a trademark that you are intending to use down the road. How can this be? The answer is that a trademark that is already in use has a fewer fees. A trademark that is being registered for future use has more fee payments and is called an ITU (intent to use) trademark. The extra fees associated with an ITU application can easily add up to over $1,000. After a trademark application for an ITU is filed, additional documents must be filed every six months accompanied by a $150 fee per class of goods and services. These six month extensions (which are available for a max of 3 years) are required until the ITU starts being used in commerce. Then once the ITU starts being used, additional paperwork (a Statement of Use) must be filed along with an additional $100 fee.
Since an ITU can cost so much more, it’s a good idea to take a close look at your business plan to determine if you are better off filing for trademark registration after you have started using your mark. Often ITU registrations are filed when a business idea is being pitched to potential business investors and there is a risk that the trademark could be stolen along with the business idea in the early stages of developing and financing the business. If you are financing your own business and there is a low risk of your idea being stolen… then waiting to file your trademark once it is being used in commerce (with the goods and services being sold by your business) could be a good idea.