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How to Search for Conflicting Trademarks?

How to Search for Conflicting Trademarks
When starting a new company, many entrepreneurs will have their idea firmly in mind not just for the type of business they are starting and the products and services they offer, but also their business name and logo. After all, you want to get your business up and running as soon as possible, so you can start making a profit. However, you will want to temper some of that excitement to ensure that your trademark does not infringe on anyone else’s intellectual property.

What to Do First
You will start by making sure that the name that you want to use for your business has not already been trademarked by someone else. You can find state and federal resources that list registered trademarks, which you will then be able to search. In addition to going through those databases, you should also check the Internet to get a general idea of whether companies are using the name.
If you are interested in registering your trademark in the U.S., the first place that you will want to look when you are checking for trademarks will be the Trademark Electronic Search System from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This database will provide you with matches and similar terms. You will also find when the trademark was filed, who owns the trademark, and the purpose of the trademark.
State trademarks should be examined, as well, since it is often possible to file trademarks in a state or territorial office. If the business is located in a certain territory, for example, it would be possible to file to have the trademark protected only in that territory.
Keep in mind that even if the business might not have a registered trademark, there could still be a problem using the name. This is because there are still common law standards for unregistered marks. They could provide that company with protection under the U.S. trademark laws.

What is a Common Law Trademark?
Common law trademarks are unregistered trademarks, and they can only be enforced in the geographic area where that trademark is used. If someone has an unregistered trademark in Miami, for example, it could prevent you from selling the same type of product if you have a similar name, but only in Miami.
Since common law trademarks will not show up on the federal or state databases, you will want to conduct a thorough online search to see what companies might be using the name. You also need to know where they are located.

Benefits of Conducting a Complete Search
You do not want to take a shortcut when you are conducting your trademark search. It is much better to ensure that you have thoroughly examined any potential conflicts or confusion with another trademark that already exists. Searching for these issues will help you save the expense of applying for a mark that you won’t receive since another business uses the same name or a similar logo. The search can also give you a better idea of whether the mark is too generic, which would make it hard to protect and could indicate weak overall branding.

Other Things to Consider When Choosing a Trademark
In addition to looking for conflicting trademarks, you also need to be sure that you are choosing an option that is easy to pronounce, spell, remember, and recognize. Those who want to market their services and goods outside of the United State using the same mark will want to know whether the mark could have a different meaning when translated to another language. You do not want to have a trademark that could be considered offensive in another country.

Registering the Trademark
Even though there is no requirement to register your trademark with the federal government, it is a good idea. While common law rights, as touched on above, can provide some protection, they don’t always provide the level of protection you need. Having a federal trademark can provide you with far more benefits.
This includes the legal presumption of ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark. Having a registered trademark will also help you with keeping your mark safe from others who are infringing on your products or services with a similar mark. Trademarks will not expire, and they are a cost-effective means of keeping your company and your brand safe.
Some people in the world are looking to take advantage of companies that don’t have a trademark. They create similar products with similar branding and attempt to copy and infringe on your business. You want to avoid dealing with these types of issues. Having a trademark that protects your business is not just a good idea. It’s essential in today’s world.

Get Help from a Professional Company
If it sounds like a lot of work to find out whether the trademark you want is already registered, or if there is a company using an unregistered mark that would still have a legal claim, it’s because it is. Whether you are looking up a name or a logo, there are multiple places to check, laws that you should know, and a lot of legwork that goes into ensuring you get a trademark that won’t come back to haunt you. There is the potential for it to take months to conduct a proper search if you are on your own.
Fortunately, you don’t have to handle all of this on your own. Instead of searching for conflicting trademarks on your own, you will be better served by working with professionals. Find a company that can help you with registering your trademark and that can provide you with legal help to ensure that all of the legal requirements are met. If the company also provides legal help if the application is rejected, that’s even better.
Rather than trying to handle it all on your own, let the professionals do all of the hard work for you. After all, you have more important things to worry about when it comes to running and growing your business.

By Alison

July 15 · 5 min read