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Trademark Search Before Trademark Application

As you begin the trademark application process, start with a trademark search and start at the top by using the database of federally registered marks maintained by the U.S.  Patent and Trademark Office. Find the trademark search database at www.uspto.gov and use the advanced search features to broaden your search and find any mark that might be considered confusing and similar to your choice of marks.

Free Trademark Search Database at USPTO.GOV

trademark search uspto for trademark application
As indicated above, Trademark Application Headquarters recommends using the advanced Free Form search features of the USPTO trademark database. This free form option will allow you to construct your searches more carefully to find similar marks to yours. You will put together your queries using a combination of Boolean logic, wildcard characters and search fields. Also, if you are doing a search for logos or graphic mark, you will want to use the Design Search Code Manual to determine the code to use in searching within the design search field as explained in this post about trademark search using design codes.

Doing a comprehensive and informative search is not easy and will take some development and honing of your search skills. Use the online trademark search help at the United States Trademark Office to understand how to use the different fields and search techniques. Use design codes to search for stylized marks or marks that include graphical features.

Understand Your Search Results Before Filing a Trademark Application

Before investing too much money in a trademark, you should consider hiring a professional.  The law concerning likelihood of confusion between trademarks is very complex and has many nuances that entire treatises are written about. At the very least, understand how a trademark can infringe on another mark by being confusingly similar, not just identical. And, you should be aware that famous marks are given even broader protection that other trademarks.

Frankly, very few lay people properly understand how to assess their trademark search results. Usually, when things work out well for a lay person filing for registration of a mark pro se, it is a result of some degree of luck. Take your time to study this topic of trademark search thoroughly, or else consider hiring a professional to conduct the search and let an attorney give you an opinion on the results, especially if you plan to invest much time and money prior to federal registration of your chose trademark.

Video – The Importance of Conducting a Trademark Search

– produced by the U.S. Government

Search State and Common Law Marks

While researching your proposed trademark selection, it is also wise to search state registrations, trade names, and common law marks using state databases, brand databases, and search engines. Prior use of a mark in commerce does establish rights even without registration and filing a trademark application; therefore someone can oppose registration of your mark, or later seek cancellation of your mark, even if they do not have a registered mark. Even though others may not have a trademark registration, you probably should consider a trademark application filing to protect the trademark for your brand.

Ultimately, you will want to choose a mark that is not going to infringe or dilute another trademark, which can lead to problems down the road. Besides being asked to stop using your mark by someone else, you will be investing in building a brand. Your brand becomes more valuable overtime, and the last thing you want to do is have to start over with the development of brand recognition and loyalty. The recent acquisition of SKYPE® by MICROSOFT® for over $8 billion is a good example of brand value, considering the MICROSOFT® already has technology like that owned by SKYPE® and probably did not need the company for its technology.

You might consider the legal services of our affiliated law firm Clark & Bellamy, P.C. Brian Bellamy has many years of experience with the filing process for a trademark application.

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