How to Search Trademarks for Your Business

So, you’ve come up with a clever name or slogan for your business and you want to register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but now what?

In our last blog post, we touched on the importance of protecting your trademark through registration. But before committing to the costly and time-consuming process of registering your trademark, it is a good idea to find out if anyone else is already using a similar name or mark for related goods and services.

After you submit a trademark application, a USPTO trademark examiner will conduct a thorough search, but it might be beneficial for you to predict and adjust any objections the USPTO may have to your trademark application.

The USPTO uses a combination of sources such as Principal and Supplemental Registers, pending trademark applications, state trademark registrations, and publications containing relevant product and service names to search for the individuality of a trademark. However, you too can conduct a trademark search to save yourself the hassle and money that follows having to reapply.

Resources to Help You Conduct Your Own Trademark Search:

  • The USPTO has an online trademark database that you can search by word and design on a national level. The website has instructions on how to effectively search the database, especially with trademarked designs.
  • Every state has a Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) that offers hardcover directories of trademarks and an online registry of pending trademarks.
  • An internet search engine can be a good way to find out if another business is using the same trademark. Keep in mind while searching for trademarks that the rights of the trademark go to the first person to use the trademark in commerce, even though the trademark might not be registered with the USPTO.
  • If your budget allows, hire a professional business incorporation firm to conduct the trademark search for you. They can help find similar trademarks that might conflict with yours, as well as search through any pending or existing marks that have been abandoned or cancelled.

Remember, there is a high likelihood of someone using a similar mark, design or slogan somewhere, but conflict will only arise when the trademark is used for a related goods and services. For example, you shouldn’t file an application for the trademark Speedy for running shoes if there is already someone selling running equipment like socks, headbands or shorts with that name.

It may take extra time to conduct your own trademark search before submitting an application to the USPTO, but it will save both time and money in the long run if you don’t have to reapply.

At MaxFilings, we’re here to assist you in any way we can to start, maintain and protect your small business.  Contact us anytime for assistance, and browse our blog and knowledge center for more details about incorporating your small business.

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