How to Perform a Basic Trademark Availability Search

Last updated: January 23, 2020
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Estimated reading time: 2 min

Conducting a Simple Trademark Name Search

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Objective:

  • To perform a simple trademark name search in order to evaluate the strength and uniqueness of a proposed mark. 

Entities:

  • Private Individuals
  • Sole Proprietorships
  • General Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Corporations
  • Non-Profits
  • Limited Liability Partnerships

Additional Information: Performing a trademark availability search isn’t the most intuitive part of protecting your intellectual property. There are a lot of different factors and criteria involved, and even if you think that your search didn’t find any results doesn’t mean that your mark is necessarily unique or strong enough for registration. Advice for selecting a strong trademark can be found in our Insight here, but first, let’s get into some pointers on how to properly conduct a simple trademark name availability search. 

Procedure:

Searching for a Trademark

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1. Go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website here.

2. Beneath the “Trademark” drop-down menu tab at the top, click “Searching Trademarks.”

3. On the next page, click “Search Trademark Database.”

4. Click “Basic Word Search,” and then click on the blue “Free Form” button towards the bottom of the page.

5. After carefully reviewing the USPTO’s instructions, check your mark’s availability using the search box.

6. Evaluate the strength of your mark by cross-referencing your results with the criteria below.

Live Trademarks and Dead Trademarks

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The first thing that you need to look for when evaluating other marks in your trademark search is whether they are “live” or “dead.” Basically, you’re checking if the trademark is active or not. Inactive or dead trademarks, while they’re still on file in the USPTO database, are typically considered invalid either because the application was rejected or because a successful applicant failed to renew their registration. When searching for trademark availability, you only need to worry about active or live trademarks. However, dead trademarks can also provide some insight into why marks similar to your own have been refused. 

Taken or Similar Names

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Next, you’ll want to make sure that your proposed trademark isn’t already taken. At first, you’ll just be looking for an exact match, but the USPTO will refuse your application if the mark’s examiner believes that it’s too similar to one already registered with the Office as well. It’s a good idea to try a few combinations out here to cover all your bases. For example, try combining your original search term with an asterisk (*), which will let you search for results that contain extra numbers or letters that weren’t specifically within your parameters. 

International Class

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You’ll now want to further refine your search by international class. This section can seem more complicated than it really is. All goods and/or services fall into one of 45 international classes. For example, most vehicles fall under Class 12, while musical instruments (as well as sheet music stands, instrument stands, and conductors’ batons) fall under Class 15. The USPTO has this helpful page – the Trademark ID Manual – that you can use to determine your mark’s class. 

Goods and/or Services

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Now here’s where things do get a little tricky. You’ll need to do some more research even after you think you’ve found the right international class. This is because goods and services can sometimes be grouped under multiple classes. To do this, you’ll want to search for the proposed trademark name in conjunction with the good or service that it will be associated with, but without entering the above international class code. 

Trademark registration isn’t the hardest thing in the world, but it’s not without its own complications at both the state and federal levels. For this reason, it’s a good idea to engage with an experienced trademark attorney who can help you search for your mark’s availability and advise you through the process. To get started, you can give us a call at (727) 279-5037, or you can visit our flat fee service pages for Florida state trademarks and federal trademarks, respectively.

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