Law professionals rarely recommend applying for a trademark without conducting an in-depth clearance search. Afterall, many businesses invest a significant amount of time and money into their branding and marketing. You can imagine the hassle to completely shift your branding if you were blocked from using your name, logo, or slogan. Plus, applying for a trademark prior to a clearance search carries certain risks. For instance, even if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registers your trademark, it does not guarantee your right to use your logo or brand in commerce. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your trademark does not infringe upon other entities when applying for a trademark. Read on to learn about how to conduct an in-depth trademark clearance search.
Conduct Preliminary USPTO Screening
First, conduct a preliminary USPTO screening to begin your trademark clearance search. To search marks in the USPTO database, open the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Before using TESS, you must choose from three search options. Based on what you are looking for, select a basic work mark search, structured word/design mark search, or free-form word/design mark search. Based on your chosen interface, TESS searches for any marks with common elements and specific marks if you know at least one element. However, a preliminary USPTO screening is only one part of your search. There may be other trademarks outside the database that have rights over yours. As a result, conducting a preliminary UPSTO screening is only the first step in your clearance search.
Utilize Search Software
Once you’ve conducted a preliminary screening, utilize search software to streamline your process. With search software, you can reduce the number of sites and databases you visit to check your mark’s availability. Especially when starting an ecommerce business, you should search based on word variation, competition, existing common law marks, and domain name registration. Typically, software systems use a complex algorithm to pull valuable information from pertinent sources. They assess important factors such as linguistics, product types, app usage, and global jurisdiction at the same time. This way, utilizing search software saves you an immense amount of time on your trademark clearance search.
Probe State Databases
In addition, it is essential to probe state databases when conducting your comprehensive clearance search. In the United States, each state has its own trademark database. You are not required to file for a trademark in every state. However, many local business owners only file at a state level. As a result, you need to check each state database for your prospective trademark. After all, state trademark registrations filed before you started using the mark have prior use in commerce. Therefore, the trademark owner could cancel any registration you obtain. In short, you need to probe state databases to prevent potential branding problems in the future.
Orchestrate U.S. Full Comprehensive Search
Next, orchestrate a U.S. full comprehensive search if your USPTO screening didn’t find any similar marks. This comprehensive search includes the most current information in terms of federal applications, state registrations, and common law uses. In addition, it also sifts through domain name registrations and Internet references. For a fee, various trademark search services review your mark search and report the results to you by phone or email. On average, it costs about $1,000. However, the cost depends on the length and complexity of your search. These professionals often search for phonetic equivalents, foreign language equivalents, and spelling variations in separate searches. A U.S. full search provides more comprehensive results and risk analysis regarding your mark’s availability.
Hire Private Trademark Attorney
Furthermore, you can hire a private trademark attorney to ensure a reliable trademark clearance search. Certainly, a trademark lawyer to represent your brand can let you know if your trademark is available for use and registration. Indeed, this significantly decreases the chances of costly legal problems and conflicting trademarks. Legal professionals can comprehensively check other sources for common law rights unregistered trademarks. Your attorney can conduct USPTO and state database searches for you as well. Plus, they can determine if your trademark qualifies for legal protection and assist you with filling out your trademark application. For a reliable trademark clearance search, hire a private trademark attorney.
There are several steps to conduct an in-depth trademark clearance search. First, conduct a preliminary USPTO screening to check availability. Next, utilize search software to check availability on other digital platforms. Then, probe state databases to see if local businesses have used your mark. In addition, you should orchestrate a U.S. full comprehensive search to professionally search for your mark’s availability. Finally, hire a private attorney for the most reliable clearance search and legal advice. Follow these steps to conduct an in-depth trademark clearance search.