By taking proactive measures to make sure you don’t infringe on another company’s trademark, you may prevent legal difficulties and a ton of hassles.
Businesses utilize trademarks—valuable words and symbols—to distinguish themselves, their goods, and their services.
Find out whether a comparable trademark has already been registered to someone else before you begin using any in your company.
If it has, choosing a different trademark will help you avoid a lot of hassle and build a better brand.
Why a trademark lookup is important
You cannot register a trademark for your company if you establish a business using one that has already been registered by another company. More significantly, you run the danger of facing a trademark infringement lawsuit.
A lawsuit that may cost tens of thousands of dollars and take months to complete may result from an allegation of trademark infringement. Or, in order to avoid legal action, you might need to change your name (as well as the names on all of your signage, packaging, labels, and website) and invest more money in marketing your new brand. You may prevent these pricey and time-consuming issues by doing a trademark search before opening your firm.
A registered trademark search can raise the likelihood that your application will be approved if you intend to register a trademark.
A “likelihood of confusion” with an existing trademark is one of the primary grounds for rejecting applications.
If two marks are similar and are used for comparable goods and services, there is a chance that the public will become confused and believe that both came from the same source.
Before you spend hundreds of dollars on nonrefundable trademark application costs or thousands of dollars branding your firm, you may pick an alternative mark by performing a trademark lookup through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
How to do a registered trademark search
The USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS, allows anybody to do a free search of trademarks. Direct name match searches can be quite simple, but trademark searches can get challenging, and you might need assistance to carry out a more complete search.
You are looking for marks that are comparable to yours and are being used on products or services that are similar to yours.
If the products and services are unconnected, as in the case of Delta faucets and Delta airlines, it is feasible to have similar registered trademarks. Similar or frequently sold together, related products and services include, for example, apparel and footwear or coffee and doughnuts. As a result, if you come across a mark that is similar, you must also determine if it has been registered for a relevant category of products or services.
Conducting a trademark check
Head over to TESS and select a search option to search the USPTO’s trademark database. Use the trademark name search if you’re looking for a name. Using the USPTO’s Design Search Code Manual, you must first look up your design code if you are searching for a design mark, such as a logo.
You may search for plurals using the TESS name search. However, the search will not always turn up terms that are spelt differently but have the same pronunciation as your trademark. This implies that you will need to carry out several searches using as many versions of your name as you can think of in order to identify identical marks. You may look for a name by its exact spelling or any trademark that uses the words from your name.
Check the search results each time you conduct a trademark search for marks that are identical to or similar to yours. List the marks that are similar or identical, together with details on the products or services they are registered for.
After that, keep track of any marks that are registered for goods or services that are comparable to yours but not identical. For information on how to characterize products or services and the international trademark class they belong to, visit the USPO’s Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual online. This might assist you in determining the products and services that are most similar to your own.
Expanding your search and getting help
Finding spelling and name variants might be far more challenging than finding precise trademark matches. Searches for designs might be difficult as well.
In comparison to an independent search, one done by experts can save you time and produce more thorough results.
It might be challenging to determine if a comparable registered trademark will invalidate a trademark application or even give rise to a claim of trademark infringement if your search turns up one. Before spending time and money on trademark registration, get legal counsel if you are unsure.
Also keep in mind that only registered trademarks will be uncovered by a USPTO trademark search. It won’t turn up any trademarks with state or common law rights that would interfere with your capacity to use your mark in a certain location. You may locate these marks with the use of a more thorough trademark search, which will also guarantee that you can confidently use and defend your trademarks.