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The Comprehensive Search (federal, state, common law, and domain names) allows you to make an even more informed decision about whether or not to proceed with the registration and/or to continue to invest in your trademark.

 

 

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Trademark Search? Do I Need One?
 

Note: The information which LegalArrow® offers below is for general informational purposes only, and is not, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. See our entire Disclaimer. On this website you can order professional trademark search services of various scopes.       Learn More.

   
Trademark Search? What Is That?

A trademark search is a search of various trademark databases for the purpose of identifying identical or potentially similar trademarks, their status, and their owners. The reliability of the  trademark search results depends on the number and the quality of the databases searched, and on the search techniques used (wild cards, Boolean operators, phonetic searches, etc).

Do I Need A Trademark Search?

For most businesses, whether they are for-profit or non-profit, the answer is yes. It is wise to decide to invest in a business name, product or service name (or logo) only after you have a comfortable degree of certainty that the name or the logo is yours. Or at least, you should know the trademark risk you assume, before spending money and other resources in promoting the respective name or logo.

A good analogy can be found in the construction field: you would not want to build your house on an untested ground. Would you? The risk you would take would be directly proportional with the value of the house you want to build. Similarly, the more serious/valuable the business you want to build is, the higher is the risk you take if you do not conduct yourself or order a professional trademark search.

What's The Risk Of Not Conducting a Trademark Search?

That is what is called trademark risk. Trademark risk is the risk that someone else already applied for, or registered the same or a similar trademark, which may result in the registration being denied by the USPTO and the loss of the filing fees among other things. In addition, it is the risk that someone else can claim rights in your trademark, or even worse, that someone else can claim superior rights to yours. If someone else can claim rights in your trademark, obviously your trademark is a weak mark. Furthermore, if someone else has begun using the trademark before you did, he is a senior user, and therefore, he may have superior rights in the trademark. A senior user may force you to stop using the trademark, and may sue you for trademark infringement. This is especially true when the senior user has the financial means to do so (e.g., a large corporation, etc).

Do I Need A Trademark Search Done Beyond USPTO?

Obviously, the more extensive your trademark search is, the more revealing the search results are, and therefore, the more informed you are and the less is the trademark risk you take. For example, if you make yourself or order a professional federal/USPTO search before filing, you decrease the risk that the USPTO will deny registration of your trademark, and therefore, you decrease the risk of loosing the filing fee ($325) and other expenses; you also decrease the risk that you will infringe someone else's rights in a federally registered trademark. However, you are still exposed to the risk that someone else is already using the same or a similar mark, and did not register it with the USPTO. This could be a serious problem, especially when that someone is a senior user. This is because in United States rights in a trademark may be acquired by use of the trademark in commerce, and registration generally only adds to those rights. This problem can be addressed, and the trademark risk further reduced, with a comprehensive search which includes the USPTO, the states (50), the common law, and the domain names search.

Can I Perform A Trademark Search On My Own? If Yes, How?

Unless you are familiar with search techniques (wild cards, etc), and you know how to access and use the appropriate trademark databases, the answer most experts would agree with, is no. However, you should always do some preliminary investigation, at least by simply making a search in Google for example, to see what comes up. You could even try to use the USPTO database, at least by performing a simple search: just type in your trademark, assuming it is in standard characters, and see the results. The preliminary investigation you make reduces the risk that you pay for a professional trademark search only to find out that the trademark is not available.

When Should I Conduct Or Order A Trademark Search?

Ideally, you should do a trademark search before you start your business, and before you launch a new product or service. And once you determine that the trademark is available, you should immediately register it.

What Is The Difference Between Word And Design Trademark Search?

A 'word' trademark search involves searches for business name, product or service name, or slogan, as they appear in standard characters; no special fonts, no colors, or design is part of the trademark. Example: 'FlexOne'. By contrast, a 'design' trademark search involves a design, logo, or word mark with special fonts, and/or colors. Example:  ?FlexOne.

 

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