What Will a Comprehensive Trademark Search Achieve?
Here at Flat Fee Trademark, we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to add value for our clients. This month, we are excited to announce the launch of our latest website feature – *free* knockout trademark searches. Yes, you read that right. You can now search your mark in the federal trademark records directly on Flat Fee Trademark at no cost, with no strings attached.
Now we know what you’re thinking… wait a minute, what’s the catch?? But really, there isn’t one. We are offering this complimentary service to current and prospective clients so you can get an idea of what’s out there before proceeding with the trademark registration process.
Consider the following important points before you start thinking DIY and that’s all there is to trademark searching.
- A knockout federal search is just that. It highlights any obvious obstacles to trademark registration for your mark and helps you to determine if your exact mark is already registered or pending registration at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). There are myriad other considerations that comprise a full fledged trademark clearance search.
- A professional comprehensive trademark search is the broadest of trademark searches, and generally includes federal trademark records, registered trademarks in all 50 states, domain name registrations and company name registrations. A comprehensive trademark search includes your exact mark, as well as variations that may create consumer confusion and possibly affect your ability to use and register the mark.
- The trademark evaluation process considers not just identical marks, but also variations among marks and related goods and/or services. An experienced trademark attorney knows what to search for and how to evaluate search results to ensure trademark availability and your rights to properly use and register a mark.
- There is more to consider in trademark searching than simply whether the mark appears in the federal trademark database. There are several bars to federal trademark registration… only one of which involves prior registered or prior filed trademarks.
Now let’s consider the benefits of trademark searching before beginning the trademark process.
- It reduces risk. As mentioned above, a trademark search reduces some of the unknown and inevitable risks that may arise during the trademark registration process. Trademark searches allow applicants to know ahead of time what other marks exist that may affect their chances of getting a registered trademark. If your mark is already registered or in use by another party, your application may be refused at the USPTO.
- A trademark search may avoid unnecessary expenses, such as Office Action responses, trademark opposition proceedings and other non-refundable filing and legal fees.
- Trademark searches reduce the risk of being sued for trademark infringement or facing an action for cancellation of your mark. In addition to seeking approval from the USPTO, trademark applicants must navigate past other trademark owners who are entitled to protect their trademark rights, whether based on federal registration or common law rights. Using someone else’s trademark, or something very similar, may result in a Cease and Desist Letter, a Letter of Protest against your trademark application, or something more aggressive like an Opposition or Cancellation proceeding before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board or a lawsuit in federal court for trademark infringement.
Now while a comprehensive trademark search may force you to rethink or rework your brand, it’s worth it in the long run because:
- you would know before you spend more time and money building up a brand that may not belong to you,
- you’ll have a better chance of having complete ownership of your brand when your trademark ultimately registers, and
- you will have peace of mind knowing that you are creating a unique and original brand in the marketplace.
These are just a few points to keep in mind when starting the trademark registration process. Before investing heavily in your brand name, start with a comprehensive trademark search, and when possible, hire an experienced trademark attorney. Otherwise, you may end up spending a lot of time and resources building something that may ultimately not belong to you.
Questions about the trademark process or trademark searching? Give us a call for a complimentary consultation, (800) 769-7790, or send us an email. We’re always happy to hear from you!