Trademark search is not mandatory as per statutory rules but viewing its long-term scopes and benefits businesses should do it before investing their hard earned money and resources on their intended mark. Without the benefit of searching, you own the risk of infringing on someone else’s rights which in turn could force you to stop using a name for which you have spent a substantial amount of resources.
Kinds of trademark search
Depending on the nature of search, a trademark search can be classified broadly into two important categories, a) knockout trademark search and b) full trademark search. In knock out trademark search limited keywords, key-phrases, operators, and databases are used. With this, Trademark search agencies generally search if the intended mark is available for use. This search also reveals exact match marks and/or closely similar marks that an intended mark could infringe.
On the contrary, a full trademark search also called as comprehensive trademark search is done using various keywords, search operators, truncation operators and databases. As the name depicts it is a complete search that finds even those obscured data that can’t be found otherwise. Common law searches like searching yellow pages, financial documents, business directories, state trademark databases all are included.
Which one should a business pick?
It depends on the goal of a company, still, we need to understand that a knock out search is a limited one and irrespective of the need it should be used as a first step. If a company is willing to take risks knock out search can be sufficient but in case a company is not willing to take any risk full trademark search is something they should go for.
Objectives of trademark search
A trademark search is undertaken to meet various goals and some of them are as follows:
- It determines the likelihood of confusion
- Helps companies determining availability of a mark
- It helps in assessing protect-ability
- Helps companies determining potential conflicts
Potential resources for doing trademark search
- USPTO database – For registered marks and pending applications
- State registrations -all 50 states
- Business names and Trade Names
- Online databases and industry publications directed to the goods or services being searched
- Domain names
- Internet websites
- Common law resources like yellow pages, business publications, and periodicals
How to do a trademark search for U.S. Companies?
In the United States, unlike patents which are granted on the first-to-file basis, trademarks are granted on first to use basis and hence registration is not a prerequisite to avail its benefits. The United States Patents and Trademark Office offers a dedicated search database to business owners called as Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) that offers plenty of search related scopes that a trademark search professional can avail.
Apart from having a user-friendly interface, it has plenty of search related tools like operators and fields those we can use to refine our trademark search. In case you wish to understand every feature of TESS database our previously written article “Understanding Various Features of U.S. PTO Trademark Search Database” could be of immense use.