You may be wondering, how do I conduct a trademark clearance search? This is a crucial step to complete before branding your next venture. Imagine this: you have poured your heart and soul into coming up with a brand name for your product or service that you are absolutely in love with. You spend hours, days, even weeks of your time coming up with a brand strategy and implementing it. You spend hundreds of dollars designing the brand and even more implementing the strategy just to find out that someone already owns it and you have to start from scratch. 

Sounds like a nightmare, right? 

Before you invest in imagery and marketing materials, there is a step to the choose-your-brand process that cannot be overlooked: a trademark clearance search. A trademark clearance search can help ensure your perfect brand name doesn’t come with an extra helping of cease-and-desist letters and a large legal bill. 

Trademark clearance searches aren’t one-size-fits all. There are two main approaches, each with its own set of quirks and perks. 

The Preliminary Search: This search provides a birds-eye view of any marks filed or registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office that may cause your brand to bust. 

Perks: 

  • Budget-Friendly: Ideal for startups with a tight budget. 
  • Fast turnaround: Get a basic sense of potential conflicts quickly. 
  • DIY Potential: While we always recommend using an expert, it is possible to search the USPTO database yourself. 

Quirks:

  • Limited Scope: Only scratches the surface, with a focus toward identical or very similar trademarks in your specific class of goods or services. This means unregistered marks or geographically close or famous trademarks with broader protection might slip through the cracks.
  • No Expert Opinion: If you take the DIY route, you lose out on the helpful risk analysis that a qualified professional can provide.

The Comprehensive Search: For those who aren’t playing around, this search provides a more thorough examination. 

Perks:

  • Unveil hidden risks: This goes beyond a basic check, examining a wider range of trademarks, including those in related fields and even well-known brands with broader protection. 
  • Professional Guidance: A qualified expert analyzes the findings and provides a legal opinion on any potential conflicts and the likelihood of confusion. 
  • Increased Confidence: You can move forward with greater confidence, knowing you’ve done your due diligence. 

Quirks: 

  • Investment Required: Expect to pay more for the expertise involved compared to a preliminary search. 
  • Time commitment: The in-depth analysis may take longer to complete. 
  • Not a magic wand: Even a comprehensive search can’t eliminate all potential issues. 

So, how do you choose? The best option depends on your specific needs. Here is a breakdown to help you decide. 

  • If you have a very unique brand name, a limited budget, and are comfortable accepting some risk, the preliminary search is a great fit. 
  • If your brand name is complex, you are in a competitive field, or want the peace of mind of an expert’s opinion, a comprehensive search is the way to go. 

Do yourself a favor, before you hire an attorney: 

  • Step 1: Generate a list of potential brand names to give yourself more options.
  • Step 2: Google your picks. What a concept, right? 
  • Step 3: Search social media and domain name availability. 

A trademark clearance search is an investment in your brand’s future. By understanding the types of searches and taking these preliminary steps, you can avoid trademark disaster and ensure your brand takes flight with confidence.

Bochner PLLC has extensive experience in both domestic and international trademark law. We oversee and develop trademark portfolios, while providing protection via trademark opposition and cancelation proceedings, as well as through litigation. Should you need help with your comprehensive trademark clearance search, please reach out to Bochner PLLC Trademark Attorney Taylor Cassidy at tcassidy@bochner.law for further assistance.

CategoryBlog, Trademark Law

Copyright © 2024 Stanton IP Law Firm, P.A. - All rights reserved