Before applying for a trademark, it is always a good idea to conduct the proper research in order to determine whether or not your desired mark, or one similar to it, is already registered and/or in use. Conducting a trademark search is a very simple process. Below is an overview of the steps that should be taken prior to filing a trademark application. Performing these steps will help ensure that you do not register for an identical or similar trademark that is already in use.
1. CONDUCT A GENERAL SEARCH
Not all trademarks that are currently in use are registered with the United States federal government. Therefore, it is a good idea to conduct a general search for any mark that you would like to use. This general search can be done using any basic search engine, such as www.google.com. The key things to look for include whether your proposed mark, or one similar to it, is actively in use by someone else. More importantly, you want to check whether or not that mark or similar mark is used for goods or services that are similar to the goods or services that you want to use the mark with. This is important because you want to avoid a likelihood of confusion between similar marks used to promote similar goods and/or services.
2. CONDUCT A FEDERAL TRADEMARK SEARCH
After conducting a general search for your mark, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website, www.uspto.gov. This is a reliable and well maintained government website that will allow you to perform limitless searches for the name you want to trademark. You should also run searches for any names that are similar to the name you want to trademark.
Once you have access to the USPTO’s website, click on the trademark tab. Next, click on TESS/ Search Trademark Database. Scroll down the page and click on Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). To conduct a basic search, simply type in the word(s) that you want to trademark. Next, look through the results thoroughly. The result list will provide you with information as to whether the mark you want to use is already in use (“live”) or was previously in use, but is no longer active (“dead”). If the mark is “dead” it is no longer in use and should have no affect on your trademark application. If a mark is “live”, check to see what type of good/services it is connected with. As mentioned earlier, if the mark is already in use for good and services similar to the ones you want to provide, this has the potential to create confusion and could affect your trademark application.
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