Do you have a brilliant, out-of-this-world, and innovative product in mind? Do you want to share it with others and make money? That’d be a great idea, especially if the product you have in mind is unique and offers plenty of benefits to consumers.
Before any of that could be realized, however, you should first protect your idea from others who might steal and use it for their own gain. This can be achieved by registering a trademark to ensure the uniqueness and originality of your product. But, first, what is a trademark?
A trademark is a form of intellectual property most businesses use to prevent others from stealing or copying their ideas. With this, your customers will be able to distinguish your offerings from those of your competitors.
In addition, a trademark will ensure that your brand is legally protected in all aspects. This allows you to sue those who’ll copy your product, from its name to other elements that make your product unique.
But, before you get a trademark, there are important processes you have to accomplish, and one of those is doing a trademark search. In this article, you’ll learn what it is and the steps you ought to take.
What Is A Trademark Search?
A trademark search is a common practice before applying for a trademark. It ensures that the trademark you wish to register is unique and 100% authentic. This proves that your trademark isn’t currently used in the market. Also, it’s often done on the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO).
A trademark is a design that represents a brand or a company. It’s a type of intellectual property that must be protected, together with copyrights and patents.
A trademark search also ensures that no two identical trademarks from two different companies will coexist. Why? Because it’ll be difficult for consumers to distinguish which one is original and which one is a copy of another. You may also use trademark lookup tools for more efficient trademark searching.
How To Conduct A Trademark Search?
A trademark search can be done in two ways: a knock-out search and a full search.
- Knock-Out Search
A knock-out trademark search is one that you can do on your own and with the help of the Federal Trademark Register. With this, you’ll be able to identify all the registered trademarks, including those under the application process.
In addition, a knock-out search will show you all proposed trademarks identical or similar to your design. If that’s the case, you have to change your design to make it 100% unique and authentic.
- Full Search
A full search is done with the help of a third-party searching firm. It uses advanced computer software to conduct a much more extensive and detailed search compared to a knock-out search. Also, it shows proposed trademarks identical and similar to your design.
In addition, a full search can be complicated and overwhelming, especially when facing hundreds of pages of results. If that’s the case, you may consult a trademark or intellectual property lawyer to evaluate all the results you obtain.
What Are The Steps To Take When Conducting Trademark Search?
Below are the steps you need to take when conducting a trademark search. Once you understand how to do it, you’ll realize how easy searching for trademarks is. But, if things get quite overwhelming, get all the help you can.
- Step 1: Visit The USTPO Website
The first thing you need to do is to visit the website of USTPO. Go to any search engine, like Google, and type ‘www.ustpo.gov.’ Once you’ve reached their platform, search for the application called Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). You can locate this in the tool section under the Trademark Application Process.
Keep in mind that the search system can only handle a limited number of searchers simultaneously. You’ll be logged out automatically if the loading time seems problematic.
- Step 2: Determine Your Search Option
Once you’re in, the next thing to do is to determine your search options. The following options may include:
- Structured Design
- Free Form Design
- New User Word Mark Search
- Publication Date
- Registered Date
If you want a more detailed and flexible search experience, consider using Free Form Design.
- Step 3: Identify Your Search Terms
Search for your proposed mark in the search box. Then, key in your exact mark to determine possible matches perfectly identical to yours. If there are any, make the necessary changes or proceed with other options.
Make sure that the phrases are placed inside quotation marks to get the best results. Otherwise, you’ll receive results based on each word found in your phrase instead of the entire phrase.
- Step 4: Search Thoroughly
When conducting a trademark search, your focus shouldn’t be limited to exact and identical marks. Rather, you should also be concerned about any registered trademark similar to yours. Why? Because your proposal will be rejected once the USTPO sees that your proposed mark is similar to a registered one.
Thus, broaden your search terms by trying other spellings, plural forms of words, and acronyms. Here are some points to keep in mind when searching:
- Foreign terms may show spelling similarities
- Use special characters to determine optional characters
- Some consonants and vowels can be substituted (s instead of z or i instead of e)
- Common abbreviations and acronyms
- Some letters can be substituted with numbers (1 instead of I or 3 instead of e)
Keep these tips in mind to determine potential variations of your trademark and increase your chances of getting approved.
- Step 5: Review The Results
After all the searches you’ve conducted, gather all the results and review each case carefully. Don’t worry, the system will provide you with a list of what you found. This list may include the following, such as:
- Pseudo mark
- Serial number
- Attorney of record
- Filing date and basis
- Live or dead
Also, be mindful of the trademark laws to avoid potential legal consequences.
Trademark search is a critical part of registering for a trademark. With this, you’ll be able to save money and time by allowing you to determine potentially identical and similar trademarks as early as possible. This means fewer chances of getting denied and reapplication. Be sure to do all the necessary edits and redesigns to ensure your mark is 100% unique and original.