Conducting a good trademark search prior to filing an application is a critical first step that many businesspersons overlook. In a previous post (How to Perform a Trademark Search) we walked readers through various sources they may want to search including common law sources, business name databases, and the USPTO records.
While you can do it on your own, there are a number of advantages to seeking the help of a trademark attorney. In this post we will explore some of those benefits.
Common Law Searches Reveal A Lot of Marks
While the USPTO maintains a very large database of registered trademarks, those are not the only ones you should research. This is because trademark rights stem from first use in commerce, not registration. As a result, you should always conduct a common law trademark search to see what marks are being used in commerce already.
A trademark attorney will know where and how to conduct this kind of a search. You should be looking online, in newspapers, magazines, and other sources. Additionally, a trademark lawyer is uniquely qualified to examine each potential mark to see who uses it, where they use it, when they first started using it, and whether their use is in connection to any similar goods or services you seek to provide. They can then weigh in on whether you have good rights or not.
Business Name Records Can Be Misleading
A trademark attorney can also search state business name records. Sometimes a registration for a business name or fictitious name can cause conflict and may prevent you from having strong rights. However, an experienced trademark attorney can look at additional details regarding these files to see if the name is still in use, if it has been terminated, as well as whether the use constitutes use in interstate commerce.
USPTO Records Are Complex
Lastly, a trademark lawyer can perform an exhaustive search of the USPTO database. Most basic searches will reveal many results and an attorney can help to narrow your search to look for marks that might be confusingly similar and in the same international class as your mark. Her or she can also use judgment in deciding what other searches must be ran, such as design code searches and searches for similar or misspelled words.
After conducting these thorough searches your trademark attorney can advise you on the odds of obtaining a registration. While it is often difficult to put odds in writing, a trademark lawyer can offer good guidance on when you should not file an application due to a likely denial.
That can save you a ton of money!
If you want help searching for existing marks or filing a trademark application with the USPTO, be sure to check out MightyMarks.com. Our online platform, coupled with years of trademark experience, make us uniquely qualified to help businesses protect their trademarks.
*This article is very general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Readers with legal questions should consult with an attorney prior to making any legal decisions.