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Trademark Clearance

Q: What is trademark clearance and how does a comprehensive trademark clearance search protect my business and brand? 

A: Trademark clearance conducted by our Denver trademark attorneys involves thoroughly searching and analyzing numerous databases not only for exact matches, but also for trademarks that look or sound similar to the one you are trying to register.  A comprehensive trademark clearance search ensures that the trademark you wish to use is not already in use or registered by someone else. A full trademark clearance search protects your business and brand by reducing the risk of trademark infringement, which can lead to potentially costly legal disputes. It also enhances the likelihood that your trademark application will be approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, ensuring your brand is legally protected.

Q: Why is a U.S. trademark clearance search important for international businesses?

A: For international businesses, a U.S. trademark clearance search is important because it ensures that the proposed trademark is not infringing on existing trademarks within the U.S. market. This is crucial for any business planning to operate in the United States, as it protects against legal complications and helps to establish a unique brand identity in the U.S. marketplace.

Q: What are the consequences of using a trademark without a proper clearance search?

A: Using a trademark without doing a proper clearance search can lead to serious consequences, including legal action such as a cease and desist letter from the existing trademark holder.  Adverse action based on trademark infringement can result in financial penalties, mandatory cessation of use, and damages. This can disrupt business operations and damage the business's reputation.

Q: How do I determine if my trademark is already in use or registered by someone else?

A: To determine if a trademark is already in use or registered, the first step is to define the scope of the search, including the trademark(s) to be searched and the goods and/or services it will be used with.  Next, conduct a search for exact matches in the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) online database, which we refer to as a “knockout search.”  If the initial “knockout” search does not reveal an exact match, the next step is performing a broader comprehensive search that includes checking Secretary of State databases throughout the United States, business directories, domain registrations, social media accounts. This will provide the complete picture of whether a mark is available for use and registration with the USPTO.

Q: What advantages does a trademark clearance provide for startups in competitive markets? 

A: Trademark clearance searches provide startups with a strong foundation in competitive markets by confirming that their brand is unique and unlikely to cause confusion with existing trademarks. This clarity allows startups to invest confidently in their branding and marketing, secure in the knowledge that their trademark is protectable and enforceable.


Q: How should businesses manage trademark clearance for a large portfolio of brands? 

A: Businesses should manage trademark clearance for a large portfolio of brands by implementing a systematic process for regular monitoring and reviewing potential trademarks, and where necessary, re-evaluation of existing trademarks. They should also prioritize the clearance of new trademarks based on their criticality to the business's core functions and growth strategy.


Q: What expertise should I look for in a firm conducting a U.S. trademark clearance?

A: When considering selecting a law firm to conduct a U.S. trademark clearance, look for expertise in intellectual property law, a track record of successful trademark registrations, a detailed understanding of the USPTO's processes, and several years of experience in your specific industry. The firm should also offer a strategic approach to search and risk assessment.  Beware of services or attorneys that charge extremely low fees or guarantee results; it is likely they are not performing all of the necessary steps in clearing a trademark for use and registration with the USPTO. 

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