Almost any successful business with a recognizable brand has federal protection behind one or more trademarks, which is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies the source of any particular product. While the owners of trademarks have limited rights without federally registering their marks, protections are enhanced with federal registration. Before you file a federal trademark application, though, it’s well worth your time and money to execute a trademark search. We’ll tell you why in this blog.
Reasons Why a Trademark Search is Necessary
Before choosing a logo or other mark that will identify your company’s products or services, you should make sure it is not currently in use by other entities. Otherwise, you risk sinking precious money and resources into a trademark that infringes upon an existing mark. Additionally, you lose the resources required to submit a federal trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
What Is a Trademark Knockout Search
The first place to go searching for trademarks that your proposed mark might infringe upon is the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), which is a database of federally registered trademarks and trademarks that are part of pending applications. Once you have access to the TESS, you may search among any appropriate trademark classes for any existing marks that might cause you trouble. Searching this federal database is referred to as a “knockout search” because it uncovers relatively simple, obvious, and straightforward issues that would arise if you went forward with your federal registration.
Common Law Trademark Search
As we mentioned above, unregistered trademarks convey certain limited protections. For example, a logo that has been used for a local company for decades might enjoy protection in a certain geographical area within a state. In contrast with other countries and jurisdictions, the U.S. gives the first users of trademarks certain common law rights.
As a result, you need to cast a wider net when performing a trademark search. Scouring popular search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo is a good tactic in a common law search. Social media sites might also yield useful information when it comes to searching for similar or identical marks. You may also check domain name databases to check on the status of online companies.
The Costs of Infringement Are Substantial
It’s completely understandable for business owners to implement cost-saving measures wherever possible. We highly recommend spending the money needed to perform a thorough trademark search so you know your company’s intellectual property is available. Otherwise, you might end up spending valuable resources on branding that infringes upon an existing trademark. On top of those sunk costs, you might have to pay damages in court in the worst-case scenario.
Many small business owners across Florida and the U.S. have retained Trembly Law Firm to help build their brand and set up an ironclad legal framework for their companies. We pride ourselves on helping businesses thrive no matter the obstacles. How can we provide value to your business today?