Sunday, August 23, 2009
Checking for Trademarks
Step 1) Google it! The more popular results are likely to come up first.
Step 2) Bing it! Or Cluuz it! Or [insert your second favorite search engine here]. Using a second search engine is like getting a second opinion or an alternate point of view that might lead you somewhere you hadn't thought of looking before. I just found Cluuz.com and it's interesting because it's providing me with the type of business a site represents and shows their primary images and logos. This is helpful in this kind of search.
Step 3) Search the U.S. Copyright office here: http://cocatalog.loc.gov If you haven't found anything that is competing with your idea yet you can try searching here. This seems to only turn up articles and written works though. And since not all published works are required to be registered, you still might turn up nothing.
Step 4) Search TESS! (The Trademark Electronic Search System) This will show records of active and inactive trademark registrations and applications.
The purpose of this searching is to find out whether or not you can register your mark/name for a trademark. You’re searching for marks where "if the examining attorney determines that a “likelihood of confusion” exists" there might be a problem.
First you want to see if there is a mark similar to yours and then whether it is used on related products or services that are like yours. Identical marks could be OK if they’re used on completely different products (i.e. a soda and a computer). Be thorough in your search. Your application for a trademark could still be denied if you don’t find exact matches.