Updated: Feb 17
One of the first steps when considering how to brand a product or service with a particular name is choosing an appropriate trademark. People sometimes wonder how they can search for a trademark, to make sure it's available for use and registration. A quick search of the Patent and Trademark Office database is very easy to do, and that's not where the lawyer magic comes in.
If a company or individual plans to invest a significant amount on marketing the new good or service under the brand name (trademark), a more extensive search is highly recommended. State trademark records, business name records, periodicals, social media and the internet are all places where a similar trademark could be lurking. If another company has established trademark rights for a similar good or service in a particular geographic area, these “common law rights” will punch holes into a Federal trademark registration -- sometimes, even resulting in what looks like a piece of Swiss cheese! So it’s very important to make sure these hurdles to use and registration does not exist, prior to applying to register a trademark with the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office, or even just using a new brand name. If a company starts using a new brand without making sure that no one else has already started providing similar products or services under a similar mark, they may be forced down the line to stop using that brand due to the other's prior use. A clearance search is one of the least expensive and most valuable things a lawyer can do for you, and well worth the investment.
Please get in touch if you need help clearing a mark for use or registration.