What is a trademark search

A trademark search is the activity of analyzing a jurisdiction’s trademark registry to ascertain whether a particular trademark would conflict with an existing, or proposed registration, in the selected country. Most intellectual property registries around the world have a registry that is accessible online to trademark owners, attorneys and professional consultancy firms, thus enabling them to discover the available of a specific mark.

Trademark Search explained

Owners of trademarks are advised to enlist the services of an industry professional to perform a search in all selected jurisdictions where the mark intends to be registered. This is a necessary step in the overall trademark registration process primarily because a mark must be deemed ‘available’ to register and this can be quickly ascertained through the activity of a trademark search.

The process of a search

The process of a search involves researching the jurisdictions relevant intellectual property database with the purpose of looking to trademarks that are the same, or similar to the trademark seeking registration. Usually, the intricate details of a trademark will be entered into the online database and an automatic search will then be initiated, providing a range of related search results.

The results will indicate whether the mark is available for registration or not, and will also give the researcher an idea as to whether the mark is too similar to other marks registered in the country. It the results show that the mark in question is not distinctive enough, or is already in use by a third party, then the trademark should not be forwarded to the registry for registration.

Who performs the search?

A trademark search is usually performed by an experienced consultancy firm or attorney on behalf of the owner. This is because the search is considered relatively difficult to conduct for those who are not familiar with the trademark industry, and professionals are more equipped to conduct a thorough and informative search. Also, if an infringement occurs from the registration or use of the mark, the owner can show that due diligence was taken when seeking registration as the used an industry professional to perform the search service.

Benefits of using a licensed attorney or consultancy firm to perform a trademark search:

  • Industry professionals can interpret the search results in a reliable and concise manner.
  • Owners of the mark can prove that they acted in good faith when registering the mark.
  • Where infringement occurs, owners of the mark can show to a court of law that there was no intention to infringe.
  • The process for registering the mark can be significantly faster with professional assistance.
  • If a mark is found to be too similar to an existing trademark after a search is performed, this will give the owner time to alter the mark to ensure it will not be rejected by the relevant registry.

Once an application for trademark registration has been sent to the appropriate intellectual property office, a final search will be performed by that office to ensure there are no conflicts of interest with the trademark seeking registration.

Learn about the Trademark Search services in which Starting Business can help you with.