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Trademark searching: checking the availability of chosen marks

It takes time, resources and money to create distinctive and effective company, brand and trade names. But, how can you be sure that the mark you've selected hasn't been registered or isn't being used by another party already? Trademark searching provides a quick and simple means to investigate the availability of your chosen brand and trade names in your industry and countries of business.

This is a basic introduction to the trademark searching process. For details on Novagraaf’s related trademark services, including trademark registration, watching, international filing, anti-counterfeiting and enforcement support, click here for our services overview page. To contact one of our trademark attorneys or to review their expertise in your sector, click here.

Why conduct a trademark search?

For many companies, trademark searching is an important first step in the registration process, as it enables them to avoid brand and trade names that are already or will soon be in use. The attempted registration of such names can be costly and time-consuming, as it will invariably result in the other party raising an opposition to the chosen mark – or challenge it after the mark has been put into use. If their challenge is successful, this could mean that you have to develop a new brand from scratch, stop your production process or even remove all your products from the shelves.

Online search engines, such as Google, are useful tools for searching to see if a trademark that is the same or similar to your chosen mark is already in use. However, it will not identify those marks that have already been registered, but not yet launch into your marketplace. Only a trademark search will be able to identify such conflicts.

Which trademark search should you use?

Novagraaf’s trademark searching service examines all relevant trademark registers to identify identical and similar trademarks to your chosen mark. Where required, it may be accompanied by appropriate advice from our consultants. The search can be tailored to meet your specific business needs but, in general, the trademark search will fall into one of the following categories:

  • Identical trademark search: Identifies marks or devices that are visually or phonetically identical;
  • Similar trademark search: Identifies identical and confusingly similar marks;
  • Trademark search with opinion: Includes the attorney's recommendation on the results of the identical or similar trademark search based on their consideration of the prior marks identified;
  • Index search: Identifies companies with identical/similar names to the search terms;
  • In-use verification search: Examines whether a third party with prior rights is using its trademark rights correctly, which may provide grounds to challenge the registration.

Our experience in this sector also enables us to highlight potential conflicts that may not otherwise be considered. For example, a trademark search can also examine the chosen mark for unintended meanings or associations. This is of particular importance should you be launching your product or brand in certain overseas countries where you could be caught out by the lingusitic differences. A linguistic search will give you greater insight into the meaning of your chosen mark in the countries in which you wish to operate. In some situations, it may also be useful to investigate conflicting marks further even where they are in use.

Trademark searching: further information

You can find out more about trademarks and the processes for obtaining, enforcing and exploiting trademark rights, here. For information on Novagraaf’s additional trademark services, including registration, watching, international filing, anti-counterfeiting and enforcement support, click here for our services overview page. Alternatively, contact our customer support team, using the contact form at the top of this page.