Trademark Fundamentals: Check Your Availability!
As mentioned in our previous post Trademark Class Search: It’s Easier Than You Think It Is! selecting the appropriate trademark Class for your goods and/or services is a necessary step when it comes to starting off your trademark registration process. Now that you have completed this essential step, you are ready to jump into the next step: checking your trademark availability.
Before you register or use your trademark, it is crucial to check that the particular trademark you want is actually available––that is to say, your trademark must not be identical or confusingly similar to any pre-existing trademarks. This is not only because an original and distinct trademark helps you stand out among competitors, but also because it ensures that you avoid any risk of trademark infringement.
Whether it be intentional or unintentional, trademark infringement could result in damage to your brand’s reputation, delay in your application, and even severe financial loss. Therefore, to avoid any negative outcomes, it is necessary to conduct a thorough trademark search before you file an application.
In this post, we will explain the factors to consider when conducting a trademark search and provide you with free search tools that will help you identify similar, or even identical, pre-existing trademarks under the appropriate trademark Class.
Factors to Consider When Conducting a Trademark Search
- Trademark Type: Before beginning your search, you must identify if your trademark is a word mark (includes only text), a logo mark (includes design and visual elements without any text), or a composite mark (includes visual elements and stylized text).
- Trademark Class: Don’t forget to narrow down the appropriate Class for your goods and/or services associated with your trademark. For example, if your brand specializes in sneakers, you would choose Class 25 (clothing, footwear, headwear).
- Prospective Country: Determine which countries you intend to do business in or plan to offer your goods and/or services under your trademark. This will help you understand the level of competition by country on a deeper level and further facilitate your search as you will be able to know if there are similar or identical trademarks already in use in specific countries.
- Application Status: When conducting your search, you will notice that there are various trademark statuses including “filed”, “registered”, “ended”, and “expired”. If you happen to find a similar or identical pre-existing trademark that is under the "filed" status, it does not necessarily mean that you are free to use that mark. This is because when it comes to registration, in some countries, first-to-file applications have an advantage over subsequent applications.
Free, Helpful Search Tools
- TMView: an international trademark search tool that contains trademarks of various countries around the world (continents include Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and America)
- Global Brand Database: WIPO’s international trademark database where you can simply search the brand name, logo, or owner to get a full chart of corresponding trademark results
- TESS: USPTO’s trademark electronic search system where you can select a specific trademark type (word mark, design mark, or composite mark) and enter keywords to get a full list of corresponding results
- Note: the system does not automatically find results that are similar to your searched keyword. For example, if you searched “Justdoit,” the result would not show “Just do it”
- eSearch plus: EUIPO’s trademark search tool where you can search European trademarks and registered community designs
When registered correctly, a trademark is an incredibly powerful asset for your business. A novel and distinguishable trademark will attract the attention of customers while helping you stand out from your competition.
Keep in mind that a thorough trademark search before beginning your filing process is necessary as it will help save you time and money in the long run. Always try to pinpoint your trademark type, trademark Class, and prospective countries, and don’t forget to take full advantage of the various free tools that are available to you as well!
To learn more about how MarqVision can help you navigate every aspect of registering your trademarks around the world, including choosing the correct trademark Class, searching for trademark availability, and managing your trademark portfolio visit our MARQ Folio product page.