Clear Your Trademark
Conducting a trademark search can save you millions of dollars. The United States is a first in time, first in right country. As a result, the first entity to use the trademark in commerce retains rights to the name in their recognized geographical location (common law rights). A trademark search will locate others using confusingly similar trademarks and prevent you from infringing on their rights.
Conduct a trademark search, here’s why
For example, let’s say SpinTails Pet Shop retailer in Concord, New Hampshire never filed for a federal trademark registration or a state trademark registration. However, they’ve been in operation since 1999 and currently sell their goods all over New England. Now, I want to start an online pet retail store named SPIN TAILS that sells goods nationwide. If I search the United States Patent and Trademark Office database and state trademark databases for “SPIN TAILS”, I retrieve zero search results. Now, let’s say I obtain federal registration and begin selling my goods nationwide. Once I sell goods in New England I’ve infringed on the common law trademark rights of SpinTails Pet Shop in Concord, NH and will have to pay them actual damages. In fact, since they are first in time and have a common law trademark you will not be able to sell your items in New England, exclusive of an express agreement with SpinTails Pet Shop. To avoid this scenario conducting a trademark search is essential. SpinTails Pet Shop would appear in a comprehensive trademark search and you could have avoided infringement.
- Don’t risk infringement – not reviewing whether a name is taken may lead you to trademark infringement
- A trademark search (or clearance) can give you peace of mind
- It will determine if you can obtain nationwide protection
Where do I look?
When looking to conduct a trademark search it’s important you search more than just the federal United States Patent and Trademark Office database. You need to search the federal trademark database, all state trademark databases, domain name databases, as well as a common law search, which is general use anywhere.
- Search Google
- View each state’s Secretary of State trademark information
- Search domain names
- Search business directories
- Use the federal database search above
When conducting this search the internet is an important tool. However, you’ll also need to search some databases which are not available on the internet, such as some states’ trademark databases. Remember, just because you can’t find it on the internet does not mean it’s not a registered trademark. The internet is definitely a good tool, but it is not a catchall. The last thing you want to do is use another entity’s trademark. It could lead to unwanted litigation, and possibly millions of dollars in damages. Make sure your search is as thorough as possible.