The Move to New York City Big update for JPG Legal: At the end of January 2018, my girlfriend and I moved from Washington, DC to New York City, meaning JPG Legal has moved to New York City as well. Don’t worry, we still file trademark applications for clients all over the world. If you’re not familiar with my girlfriend, she’s Stephanie Echeveste, retail placemaking consultant and founder of Distill Creative. Jeremy with […]
Jeremy Peter Green is an entrepreneurship attorney who helps businesses protect and expand their brands. Green handled 770 new federal trademark applications in 2018, making him the 10th most prolific trademark attorney in the United States. Green graduated from Northwestern University School of Law on a full scholarship.
Green has been profiled on USA Today, CNBC, CNN Money, NPR's Morning Edition, WIRED, MSNBC, the New York Daily News, HLN, CNN Politics, DCist, Vox.com, CNET, Mic.com, NBC News, Refinery29, the Globe and Mail, and several other news sources. He is best known for owning ClintonKaine.com and hosting "Hillary Potter" fan fiction there during the 2016 election, before selling the domain.
Green is based in Lower Manhattan in New York City. He formerly served as in-house General Counsel and Webmaster for Teamsters Local 922 in Washington, DC.
You may contact him at email@example.com.
MarkHound and the Move to Manhattan
The Move to New York City
Big update for JPG Legal: At the end of January 2018, my girlfriend and I moved from Washington, DC to New York City, meaning JPG Legal has moved to New York City as well. Don’t worry, we still file trademark applications for clients all over the world.
If you’re not familiar with my girlfriend, she’s Stephanie Echeveste, retail placemaking consultant and founder of Distill Creative.
Jeremy with his girlfriend Stephanie in Manhattan.
For a while, both of us were working from our apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but we recently secured a retail space near our apartment, and we’ve been working on building it up for our grand opening.
JPG Legal’s temporary home office in Manhattan, right at the foot of the Williamsburg bridge.
The view of Manhattan’s Lower East Side from JPG Legal’s temporary home office.
Most of the living room furniture in the apartment is left over from JPG Legal’s office in DC, so there’s a lot of green and teal here for now, but at least the place is comfortable. I have a lot of (Jewish) family history in the Lower East Side and NYC in general, so it’s wonderful being here. The $3 to $5 fast food lunch options in Chinatown are unbeatable.
Our retail space will be called Eche Verde, a combination of her last name, Echeveste, and my last name, Green, which translates to verde in Spanish. In addition to office space for our businesses, it will serve as an art studio, gallery, event and workshop space, and small goods retail outlet for products that we curate and make.
Introducing MarkHound™, the Trademark Enforcement Service Suite
MarkHound™ is here! This is a new slate of yearly subscription services offered by JPG Legal for enforcing your trademark rights. These types of services are usually only available to larger companies with big legal budgets. As with our trademark search and filing services, MarkHound will even the playing field and allow smaller companies and startups to compete with the big dogs. Services offered include:
1. MarkHound Watch. Subscribers to this service retain JPG Legal to monitor the USPTO database for new applications that potentially infringe on the client’s trademark rights.
2. MarkHound Threaten. This subscription service offers clients the ability to send cease-and-desist letters to as many infringing competitors as necessary. Because these letters will be on a law firm’s letterhead, they’ll have some real bite behind them.
3. MarkHound Oppose. This is the service clients can use to retain us to oppose trademark applications they believe infringe on their trademark rights or would otherwise harm the client’s business.
Stay tuned for even more service offerings, helpful blog posts, and even more helpful mailing list emails.
The Evolution of JPG Legal as a Website
and as a Law Firm
Me editing an abandoned JPG Legal trademark page concept in late 2016.
A Good Small Firm Attorney Is a Good Web Designer
Segment about my “Hillary Potter” fan fiction and comics on HLN’s Morning Express.
Ezra Klein and Glenn Beck write about my ClintonKaine.com “Hillary Potter” website.
Before then I had been contracting as the Director of Strategic Initiatives (a title I made up and got approved) at a small Department of Defense office, where I had to deal with a bad work environment, large and unpredictable gaps in my employment, and my own moral qualms about being an active participant in the genocidal military-industrial complex of a global hegemony.
Rachel Maddow discusses my Hillary Potter fanfiction on July 22, 2016, the day Clinton chose Kaine as her running mate.
JPG Legal Begins
This windfall from my quirky domain name escapade was the spur I needed to finally get myself out of that situation and strike out on my own.
JPG Legal’s website on September 28, 2016.
As you can see from the screenshot above, I had a barren website a year ago. I had just designed a logo for myself in Adobe Photoshop, and jpg.legal was simply an online listing for people who had heard about me through personal referrals and wanted to contact me. I was licensed in New York, living in Washington, D.C., and waiting for my D.C. Bar paperwork to come through, so I was uncomfortable with the idea of actively promoting myself online.
I had filed about eight trademark applications total and I was taking any work I could get, from LLC operating agreements to L-1 business visas to personal injury cases on contingency. I was also doing landlord-tenant work pro bono for anybody I met in D.C. whose landlords were trying to screw them. I worked out of a Cove co-working space that I paid $125 a month to use, a major expense for me at that time.
JPG Legal’s website on November 10, 2016.
JPG Legal’s website on November 14, 2016.
I had very few clients during those months and a ton of down time, so I tried to make good use of that free time by building out my solo practice’s website. In the screenshots above, you can see a version of jpg.legal that has more of a resemblance to the current page, but still has a long way to go.
Around that time, I found that I enjoyed trademark work and I decided it would be a good niche for finding clients online, so I focused my website development on that area of law. The background picture in the screenshots above is a photograph of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office I had grabbed from Flickr under a free-for-commercial-use license.
JPG Legal’s main page on November 15, 2016.
JPG Legal’s trademark landing page on November 21, 2016.
By late November, I had finally arrived at a website design that looked reasonably attractive and professional, and I had ditched the USPTO photograph for something that worked better for aesthetics. I had also made a separate landing page just for trademark clients, which contained an online form through which potential clients could hire me. At that point, I still hadn’t yet decided to offer a Filing-and-Monitoring-Only Package for entrepreneurs who either didn’t need or couldn’t afford a full search package.
JPG Legal’s trademark landing page on November 24, 2016.
Now I was cooking! Above you see the background image I now currently use for my trademark landing page, minus the YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE™ overlay on the iPad. You can also see that I was charging $200 for my basic package at first. If you look really closely, you can see the trademark price sheet of LegalZoom (my biggest competitor) open in one of my browser’s tabs.
I had a pretty good landing page at this point. Unfortunately, I was almost broke (even after doing a few weeks of miserable legal document review temp work), and couldn’t afford to experiment with Google Ads, so I had no way to promote my new website. Around this time, Teamsters Local Union 922 came to me and offered me a job as their new taxi union attorney and lobbyist. I gratefully took the job (on the condition that they allow me to keep running my solo practice on the side), and after my first week there I convinced them to change my title from “Attorney” to “General Counsel” (to make me a more compelling lobbyist, of course). I also built a little website for them and gave all the staff members custom email addresses at Teamsters922.com.
JPG Legal’s trademark landing page on May 2, 2017.
JPG Legal Takes Off
After four months at this job I managed to save up $5000, and then I received a $3000 advance retainer from one of my few solo practice clients. With this bankroll, I was ready to launch my Google AdWords campaign. I quickly finished building out the functionality of my website forms and I started an ad campaign in April of 2017. I was right to wait until I had saved up $8000, because I blew through almost my entire bankroll before I actually hit on a profitable ad campaign formula in May. That month or so during which I was burning through my savings and tinkering with my ads was stressful, but also a lot of fun. After that initial month, I was getting so much business that it was clear that I was going to have to transition out of my role as in-house counsel at Teamsters 922.
JPG Legal today (October 1, 2017).
At some point I decided my landing page still looked awkward, so I came up with the “You Have No Excuse” slogan, designed some branding for it in Photoshop, and filed a trademark application for it. I also incorporated it into the slideshow on the enormous display monitor I run with an RKM Android mini-computer in my strategically located office at the WeWork Apollo here in Northeast Washington, DC.
And there you have it! I’ve filed over 225 trademark applications so far. I never could have imagined that my firm would be taking off so quickly. Dreamed, maybe, but not imagined.
The Future of the Trademark
The Trademark Industry Is a Racket
Sometimes people ask me how my business model is profitable, or what my edge is. I find it hard to answer them without making it sound like I’m cutting corners, but the truth is that JPG Legal’s edge is simply that we’re cheaper than all of the good services and better than all of the cheap services. We’re an actual law firm that performs actual legal work while still charging as little as or less than the online “legal services” factories like LegalZoom.
The two primary trademarking models — both the traditional law firm model and the online “legal services provider” model — are rackets.
Conventional lawyers are bad at client acquisition, so they tend to exploit the clients they do manage to get, billing as many hours to their clients as they can. In reality, it simply doesn’t take much time to perform due diligence on trademarks, or to file trademark applications.
However, on the other end, there are also all of these cheap, no-frills online service providers who don’t seem to be bound by any ethical obligations and who mislead people about their likelihood of success or the hidden back-end costs of their trademark applications. I’m trying to bridge that gap with my firm.
JPG Legal’s Growth, Margins, and Profitability
(Note: This post is from mid-2017. See our mid-2018 growth update here.)
My growth in the past few months has been phenomenal, and I’m going to need to start hiring help soon. However, it’s very important to me that JPG Legal stay an actual law firm and not become a corporate middleperson like LegalZoom. I believe that the margins are high enough at my price point to keep giving professional-level service to clients and avoid selling out; I’m going to make sure that my clients’ cases are handled by actual, knowledgeable attorneys who are employees of JPG Legal (as opposed to independent contractors).
profits earnings before taxes in U.S. dollars since launching Google ads in April 2017.
The screenshot of my accounting spreadsheet above shows my recent monthly profits (correction: earnings before taxes (EBT)) in U.S. dollars since I first finished building out my website and launched Google ads in April. This is after accounting for advertising costs ($10,000 in May, $4,500 in June, and $3,500 in July), office expenses ($1,123 in July, the month I moved into my current office), and filing fees ($5,500 in May, $7,250 in June, and $18,000 in July).
Last month, I filed about 70 trademark applications, and I’m at maybe 30% capacity. Once I reach 70% or 80% capacity, I’ll hire an associate attorney for my firm. My model is very scalable; it’s profitable enough that I could keep hiring attorneys and give them good salaries and benefits ad infinitum.
Most of my income now comes from repeat clients and referrals, so the growth is going to keep compounding. The jump from $4,500 in June to $12,000 in July, in particular, was stunning. I now find myself in the enviable position of figuring out how to scale my firm sooner than I had expected.
Trademark Websites Are Lying About the Amazon Brand Registry
How long does it take to get on Amazon’s Brand Registry?
Disclaimer: This post arguably constitutes legal advice and in a way I am your lawyer now. At the end of this post, I will no longer be your lawyer, unless I already was before.
It takes at least eight months from the time you file a U.S. trademark application to get on the Amazon Brand Registry. Apparently other online trademark services are telling people things such as, “As far as we know, Amazon will accept proof that you’ve filed your application”, at least according to some clients of mine.
This is wrong. Amazon updated their trademark rules a few months ago. If you want to protect your brand from infringers on Amazon by being on Amazon’s Brand Registry, you need a fully registered trademark.
Again, this will take at least eight months from the time you file the application. Anyone telling you otherwise is either being dishonest or, at best, willfully ignorant.
Should I Trademark My Amazon Brand?
What is the Amazon Brand Registry?
Disclaimer: This post arguably constitutes legal advice and in a way I am your lawyer now. At the end of this post, I will no longer be your lawyer, unless I already was before.
Amazon has recently changed its standards for becoming a member of their Brand Registry, which is the main resource Amazon sellers have for stopping people who counterfeit and infringe on their brands. In part because of these changes, I’ve been getting so many clients who sell on Amazon in the past few months that I’ve decided to make it a major part of my trademark filing practice.
Unfortunately, Amazon has made it much harder to get on their Brand Registry and stop other sellers from stealing your brand name. The roughest thing about it is that Amazon only seems to recognize trademarks that are fully registered, and not ones that are still in the process of being registered. The smallest amount of time you can hope for between filing of the application and registration of the trademark is eight months, and that’s when everything goes right.
Further, Amazon isn’t accepting logos and stylized trademarks. (Nov 7 2017 UPDATE: Amazon has loosened its requirements and now also accepts stylized words as well as logos as long as they have the wording of the brand name in them.) According to Amazon, “the Mark Drawing Type must be equal to ‘4 – STANDARD CHARACTER MARK’ or ‘1 – TYPESET WORD(S)/LETTER(S)/NUMBER(S).” So anybody who has a registered logo trademark, even if the logo has the name of the brand in it, is ineligible for the Brand Registry.
Is it worth going through the whole trademarking process?
It’s definitely worth it for Amazon sellers to file trademark applications for their brands. Having the power to kick counterfeiters and infringers off of Amazon is massive, and arguably essential, for an Amazon seller. I’ve even had a couple of clients who are in the unfortunate position of having to fight a counterfeiter or brand infringer who filed a USPTO trademark application before the legitimate seller filed their own. Now they are mired in long-term legal struggles just to have the right to use their own brand name.
Even without the Amazon Brand Registry, trademarking your brand name is essential.
Registering a trademark in the U.S. (and getting a legal opinion on your brand name from a U.S. trademark attorney) should be a priority for any business that sells products to U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they sell goods on Amazon. The following benefits justify the cost of securing any ecommerce/retail company’s U.S. trademark rights:
1. You eliminate the risk of somebody else filing a U.S. trademark application for your name or a similar name in your industry before you do, a problem that would severely limit, if not destroy, your ability to sell products to U.S. consumers. You would also likely be booted from the U.S. Amazon Brand Registry, even if you have a registered trademark in a different country.
2. You are more likely to avoid receiving a cease-and-desist letter out of the blue from an existing company with a similar name, pressuring you to lawyer up and possibly forcing you to change your brand name.
3. It makes your company more valuable as an asset if you’re interested in selling the company and exiting with a large payout.
4. Retail stores prefer to work with companies that have strong trademark rights established. Costco, for instance, insisted that a liquor company I worked with give Costco evidence that their trademark rights were in order before their product could go on shelves.
5. Having a U.S. trademark registration is the closest thing to owning an “international trademark” that a company can achieve; the United States is the world’s great cultural and economic hegemonic power.
Just get your trademark rights in order already.
So yes, if you sell products on Amazon, you should trademark your brand. The sooner a seller files an application, the better, before a Chinese-owned LLC registered in Wyoming files one first. I’m biased, but I recommend hiring JPG Legal (my law firm), using our online form, to do this.
The Trademark Industry Is a Racket Sometimes people ask me how my business model is profitable, or what my edge is. I find it hard to answer them without making it sound like I’m cutting corners, but the truth is that JPG Legal’s edge is simply that we’re cheaper than all of the good services and better than all of the cheap services. We’re an actual law firm that performs actual legal work while still […]
How long does it take to get on Amazon’s Brand Registry? Disclaimer: This post arguably constitutes legal advice and in a way I am your lawyer now. At the end of this post, I will no longer be your lawyer, unless I already was before. It takes at least eight months from the time you file a U.S. trademark application to get on the Amazon Brand Registry. Apparently other online trademark services are telling […]
What is the Amazon Brand Registry? Disclaimer: This post arguably constitutes legal advice and in a way I am your lawyer now. At the end of this post, I will no longer be your lawyer, unless I already was before. Amazon has recently changed its standards for becoming a member of their Brand Registry, which is the main resource Amazon sellers have for stopping people who counterfeit and infringe on their brands. In part […]