Your business name is your identity. Attached to that is your reputation and good will. If you let your competitors to connect their business to your name, then you might as well close shop. Protect your business from free riders by registering your trademarks. The first step involves a trademark name search so that you yourself will not be using an already existing mark.
The website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office has a database that you can search for any identical or similar marks already registered. On first appearance, the database looks fairly easy to use. In some ways, it is as simple as using a search engine online. The catch is knowing not only how to search but what to search for. If you are not experienced at conducting a trademark search, you may end up wasting your time and money in registering your trademark because you missed simple but important variables.
The initial search will usually start with the mark you want to register. Typing your mark in quotation marks will help narrow the search parameter so search results are limited to very similar names. Take for example the name “Cup of Coffee.” Without the quotation marks, the search results will be overly broad and will include marks having just one of the words and will include marks with numerous variations of all the words in jumbled order. Of course, the downside to limiting your search to “cup of coffee” is that your search may be too narrow and miss similar variations.
Most businesses have logos attached to their names. This makes it a lot more complicated because you will need to properly describe the design in a way to detect similar marks. Even a simple design may involve several keywords you will want to consider. The simple Facebook logo would include keywords such as blue, blue box, partially shaded square, letter f, and so on. Imagine how complex it would be if your logo involves more design elements.
In case you get through all those search obstacles, you may still end up with quite a few matches. If you really want your name and logo to be registered but there are matches, check if the results are either live or dead marks. Live marks mean that the application is still pending and you will have trouble registering your own. If the match shows that it is considered dead, the owner has already given up the mark and you are free to use it for your own.
Search tips, while helpful, will not ensure your trademark search is comprehensive. You may find a conflicting mark right away, but there is no guarantee you haven’t missed out on some important search results. Everyone thinks that performing a trademark name search is as simple as plugging in a few search parameters. Unfortunately, many do not realize until it is too late into the registration process that the trademark search is indeed a complicated but integral part of the trademark application process. If you feel overwhelmed and choose to hire an attorney to to it, our attorneys can help you successfully get your trademark registered.
Begin your trademark search now or contact us to perform the search for you.