Performing a trademark search before selecting a business or product name is important for several reasons. First, it ensures that you will be creating a distinctive branding experience for your business, product or service. This will help to differentiate your product from those of your competitors, which will lead to a more distinctive and visible marketing experience, increased brand loyalty and higher profits.
Second, it can save your business thousands of dollars in wasted marketing and advertising time and money. How? By ensuring that the mark you choose is not infringing another mark already in use by another business. Failure to due a proper search before adopting a name will lead to additional marketing efforts. Not only will this cost you money, but when you are forced to change your mark, you will have wasted valuable marketing time on your effort that will now need to be duplicated. In addition, customer confusion will likely ensue afterwards. This can be a very expensive proposition and will hurt the goodwill of the company that you are trying to build!
Finally, doing a proper trademark search can help to avoid any future litigation as a result of having to defend a trademark infringement lawsuit. These lawsuits are not only expensive, but they will consume time that you should be using to run your new venture.
A company trademark denotes a singular source of goods or services. How can the customer know if the product or service that he/she is purchasing is the same product that he/she has come to know and rely? The customer “knows” because the customer recognizes and attaches his/her prior experience with the product to a word, logo, symbol, color or combination of these that are on the packaging or advertising of the product.
From a business standpoint, you want your product or service to stand out from your competition. This is especially true if you believe your product to be superior to other similar products on the market. To stand out, you need to have a distinctive trademark which separates your product or service from that competition. With effective marketing, there is a good chance that your trademark will become your most valuable business asset. Why take chances on losing that?
So, how can you ensure that the trademark you choose will not infringe another trademark and will be distinctive from any other in use? By hiring an attorney to perform a thorough trademark search and then, if cleared, filing a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). At a minimum, your trademark search should include domain names, social media and state and common law. A full United States search is advisable if you ever anticipate offering your product or service outside of your domiciled state. This will ensure your trademark will receive nationwide protection. In addition, depending on the scope of your business, you can conduct an international search as well.
A trademark search can uncover any potential issues which could arise with the use of your mark. It can show whether your intended mark or a substantially similar one is currently registered or in use by another. If currently registered or in use, it can show the business type with which that mark is being used. This is important because some overlapping may be permissible/acceptable with different business categories. In addition, a trademark search can help you to learn where the same or similar mark is being used geographically. Again, some overlapping may be permissible based upon this information and your business plans.
After conducting the trademark search, an attorney will draft what is called an opinion letter. An opinion letter is used to assess the legal strength or weakness of your proposed mark. Based upon this assessment, your attorney may suggest changes to the proposed mark or point out areas in which there may be a conflict. It may be that you come to the conclusion that the best course of action should be to adopt a different mark. Either way, you will have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
By conducting a proper trademark search, you will be ensuring that you adopt a trademark that will make your business, product or service distinctive to the public, while helping you to avoid wasting unnecessary time and money on advertising, marketing and litigation. Click the “Schedule An Appointment” link below to automatically schedule a meeting with us or call Intellequity IP Legal Services now at 503-877-0881 to get a free consultation to answer any questions you may have regarding the use of your mark.