Before you can finalize a trademark for your business or product, you must first ensure that no one else is using that same mark.
Choosing a list for your business or intersection ? Doing a trademark search is important for determining whether another business is already using a brand that ‘s identical or similar. This is crucial for both word marks ( that is, corporate names ) and effigy marks ( such as logo ) .
You would n’t want to select a commercial enterprise name or logo, print brochures, run ads, develop a web site, and develop a reputation only to be forced to stop using the name curtly thereafter .
National Trademark Searches
What is a brand “ research ” ? many businesses will hire law firms to perform comprehensive examination trademark searches through assorted electronic databases. Depending on the type of mark ( a word chump or an persona mark ) and its complexity, such a search can cost several thousand dollars. however, you can do a basic brand search on your own, without the motivation for lawyers. In many cases, this is sufficient to find the relevant data.
To start the search, look through the trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ( USPTO ), the federal agency charged with maintaining the national read of trademarks. The USPTO ‘s Trademark Electronic Search System, known as TESS, is freely available and can show you what marks have been registered in what trademark classes .
There are 45 trademark classes, which are basically categories of marks split based on the type of the beneficial or avail. For exercise, furniture is Class 20, while tobacco products are Class 34. If you are marketing a modern type of smoking pipe, then you would want to search for your crisscross within Class 34, since that is the relevant class. ( If a furniture company is using a like logo to the one you intend to use for your pipe, this is not necessarily a conflict, since the goods are in different classes. Consumers will not be confused between your two companies or products ) .
In accession to searching for registered trademarks on TESS, you should besides do a exempt Internet search to see how and where the name you want is being used. Often, a simple research on Google will give you a strong sense of any major players using the mark in your diligence. alternately, you may choose to use a fee-based trademark search engine, such as Compumark .
You can besides search domain names being used by Web-based businesses at any domain appoint registrar. There ‘s a list of knowledge domain appoint registrars at ICANN.org, the large nonprofit organization arrangement that administers Internet administration regulations and URL registrations .
Searching for unregistered trademarks is important because even if a trademark is unregistered, its universe could prevent you from registering the hallmark in your own name or from even using the hallmark legally.
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And you do not want to violate person else ‘s trademark rights, particularly if the trademark has been federally registered. In that case, a court can assume you knew it was federally registered, even if you did not, and you could have to pay the trademark owner ‘s lawyer fees a well as damages .
State Trademark Registries
In accession to checking for federally registered trademarks at the USPTO ‘s web site, it is besides a good estimate to check your state ‘s trademark database. The department of state hallmark database is much partially of the Secretary of State ‘s office, though in some states it has a department of its own. It ‘s normally potential to search a state ‘s register businesses and trademarks through the Secretary of State ‘s web site, which may or may not besides be federally registered as trademarks .
Be indisputable to besides check one of the sites that search for trademarks registered in all 50 states if you ‘ll be doing business in more than one state .
Analyzing the Search Results
While you may find hundreds of similar trademarks being used across the nation based upon your respective searches, you will need to know how to sort through your results and determine which trademarks you are actually prevented from using .
For example, if another company is using the same or a exchangeable name to marketplace different products and services, it may be fine for you to use the name for your occupation. But if another company is using the like or a exchangeable name to market alike services in a different part of the nation, it ‘s less clear.
For help oneself in determining whether you can or ca n’t use a trademark, see Nolo ‘s Trademark: Legal Care for Your Business & Product Name, by Stephen Fishman .
Remember that the fourth dimension and price you put into a trademark search should be proportional to the size and setting of your occupation. A multinational company that intends to market a consumer intersection needs to be identical exhaustive ; a belittled mom-and-pop workshop that wants to name a newfangled kind of salad dressing for sale locally need not break the bank on hallmark searches .
If you decide to work with an lawyer when doing a trademark research, you will besides get a legal impression as to whether your proposed score is legally dependable to use. For aid finding an lawyer, see Nolo ‘s Lawyer Directory or the article How to Find an excellent Lawyer .