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Trademark Searches: A Guide


A trademark search is the process of determining whether or not a particular “mark” is already in commercial use. Businesses and entrepreneurs can benefit from a proactive trademark search because the results will tell them if a particular mark is available and it will give them a better understanding of their options. Ideally, you should conduct a detailed trademark search before you invest significant financial resources into building a brand. Below, our Boca Raton trademark registration attorneys provide a more detailed overview of trademark searches.

Starting Point: A Knockout Trademark Search

The most simple type of trademark search is called a “knockout” search. Essentially, it running a few terms through the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Managed by the USPTO, TESS will show you if a particular term has already been registered or applied for. Running a knockout trademark search is an excellent starting point for businesses that are in the process of developing a new brand. That being said, the TESS system does return relatively narrow results—meaning it can be risky to rely solely on a knockout search. While you can do this type of search without the assistance of an attorney, it is not recommended. For example, you may still be able to use a certain trademark if the registration that was obtained or applied for relates to a different class of goods or services.

Better Option: A Comprehensive Trademark Search

For companies or entrepreneurs looking to launch a new brand, a comprehensive trademark search is a better and more reliable option. Beyond a simple knockout trademark search through the TESS database, a comprehensive trademark search can involve the review of:

  • All federal trademark records;
  • Any filings with state trademark offices;
  • Domain names and search engine results; and
  • Common commercial usage of the term or mark.

The purpose of a comprehensive trademark search is to provide in-depth information about exactly how a mark/term is being used in the business world. If another company is already using the mark, but has not actually registered for trademark protection, that matters. A comprehensive trademark search will uncover this information, while a simple knockout search will probably miss it.

Why Trademark Searches are Important

Comprehensive trademark searches offer three key benefits to businesses: clarity, conflict avoidance, and protection. Before building a brand and registering a trademark, businesses should have clarity on exactly how a term has been (and is being) used. With full information, they will be in a more informed position to make strategic decisions on how to proceed. Next, conflict avoidance is key. No company wants to end up in a serious intellectual property dispute. A trademark search helps to ensure that you or your business will avoid facing or minimize the risk of facing a trademark infringement claim. Finally, a trademark search helps put companies in the best position to build a brand that they can actually protect through the U.S. intellectual property system.

Call Our Boca Raton Trademark Lawyer for Help

At Perkins Law, our Florida brand protection attorneys have extensive experience running comprehensive trademark searches for businesses and entrepreneurs. If you have questions about registering a trademark, we are here to help. For a confidential initial consultation with a top-rated intellectual property lawyer, please contact our law firm today. From our office in Boca Raton, we represent clients in South Florida and nationwide.



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