6 Reasons to Perform a Trademark Clearance Search
Why You Should Perform a Trademark Clearance Search Before Registering with the USPTO
We can’t emphasize how much time and stress you’ll be spared by performing a trademark clearance search before trying to register your mark. Charging straight into the trademark application process can cost you, as the USPTO does not offer refunds for their rejections. That’s why it’s important to do your research.
Among the most common types of trademarks is the “word mark.” This is what you’ll be using to register the names and the like. A good time to perform a trademark clearance search is right before launching a new business, product, or service because it helps make sure that you’re picking a name that will grab the public’s interest. Also, you won’t have to worry about being sued for using the name of an already registered product.
It’s also a smart idea to run a trademark clearance search prior to rolling out a new logo or design. The reasons are similar to those discussed above. It’s frustrating to invest time, energy, and money into a great new graphic, only to find out that it would probably be “confusingly similar” to an already registered mark. Seeing what’s already out there can be helpful in designing something that will stick out from the crowd, too.
New Products or Services
A lot of work goes into readying any new product or service for the public. However, all that effort might be wasted if you forget to run a trademark clearance search early in the process. No matter how unique your idea is, there’s always a chance that somebody beat you to the punch. Even if you successfully registered one product, you can’t assume that it will work for another.
Here’s an example – let’s say that you own a Florida LLC that makes t-shirts, but your business wants to expand into footwear as well. However, just because your trademark was available for t-shirts doesn’t mean that it will also be available for shoes, necessarily. Each product or service has its own “class” that must be considered when searching for a trademark, too.
Potential Infringement Issues
Don’t think that you’re safe from infringement claims just because you’ve used an unregistered mark up until now. You could still be inadvertently infringing upon someone else’s registered trademark. In this situation, performing a trademark clearance search is critical to protecting yourself and your intellectual property. If your mark isn’t as original as you thought it was, then it will need a redesign. Otherwise, you might face a cease-and-desist letter or even an infringement lawsuit in your future.
Testing the Strength of Potential Mark
A trademark clearance search can be a useful tool even in the early stages of planning your mark. This is especially true if you’re choosing between multiple options. In addition to registered marks, your search will also show applications that were rejected, as well as the reason for their rejection. Most often, a mark is rejected for being “weak,” which means that it is too generic or otherwise fails to meet the USPTO’s criteria. Choosing a strong mark is essential to successful trademark registration. For more, here’s our Insight on selecting strong trademarks.
Comparing Against Registered Goods and Services
Searching through trademarks already registered with the USPTO is a good way to size up your competition and see what similar brands, products, and services are already out there. Again, the good or service that your prospective trademark would protect needs to be substantially different from what other businesses and individuals have previously registered. Trust us – you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a rejected application.
A trademark clearance search might sound simple, but it’s not as easy as your usual Google Search. There are multiple classes, databases, and technical jargon to parse through, and even if your trademark looks to be in the clear, there’s always the chance that you’re just missing the right search criteria.
Enlisting an experienced trademark lawyer to perform your trademark clearance search can make your life easier. Reach out to us for help by visiting our trademark page or by calling (727) 279-5037.