Before you start building a brand around your name, slogan or logo, you need to know how to do a trademark search. A trademark search is important because it will let you know if the name, slogan or logo that you want to register with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is available.
Why you should search first
The first thing you should do before you apply for a federal trademark is to search to see if the name, logo or slogan you want to register as a trademark is available. This is important because if you begin using a name that is already owned by someone else, they can sue you for trademark infringement – even if you did not know that they already owned the name. If they win their case against you, you could be legally forced to pay damages, attorney’s fees and court costs, as well as spend time and money changing the logo, slogan and/or name of you business. On the other hand, you can avoid these issues by having a comprehensive name search before you register your trademark.
How to do a trademark name search
So, how exactly do you do a name search. Here are the top 6 characteristics of a thorough name search:
- Online Search. The easiest search you can do is to look up the name you want to register in Google. You can type the name and view the search results. Your goal is to find out if anyone else is using the name in association with goods and services that are similar to yours (Note: In trademark law, we refer to this as operating within the same international class).
- United States Patent & Trademark Website. Next, you’ll want to search the USPTO register to see if someone else has already registered the name or something similar within the same category (international class). If you find something, all hope is not lost. Make sure that the registration is “active” and not “dead”.
- State Trademark Registrations. Almost all 50 states let you register your trademark using their specific state register. They usually charge less than the federal government. You need to make sure you are looking at the registers of each of the states (or as many states that have them) in order to make sure that someone else hasn’t already registered the name, slogan or logo that you desire to legally register.
- State company registrations. Almost all 50 states let you register your company name using their specific state register. You want to search the company registers for as many of the states as possible to see if anyone else is claiming ownership of the name you intend to register.
- Domain names. You want to search online to see if someone already owns the name. If they do, visit the website to see if it is selling something similar.
- Legal Opinion. Lastly, you want a trademark attorney to review all of the findings to give you a definitive legal opinion as to if the name is available. Just because you feel that someone is using the name in a similar way, does not mean that is the way the law would see it. There are also many exceptions and loopholes that trademark attorneys are familiar with to help you register your trademark. To date, our firm has a 100% success rate with our trademark filings (Disclaimer: Past Results do not determine future outcomes). We attribute this largely to our in-depth understanding of trademark laws and how to apply them in order to benefit our clients.
If you are in need of a trademark name search, our law firm conducts a Comprehensive Name Searches for our clients for a non-refundable flat fee of $300. It is a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing that you are able to legally register your trademark without opposition. Call us today for a free consultation. 1-800-254-6140.