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How To Check For Trademarked Phrases

How to Check if a Phrase Is Trademarked (+ Free Trademark Search)



24 April 20244 min read

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How to Check if a Phrase Is Trademarked (+ Free Trademark Search)

When launching a new product, branding with a unique phrase, or even just printing a catchy slogan on merchandise, it's crucial to ensure the phrase isn't already trademarked.

Using a trademarked phrase without permission can lead to legal issues, including costly litigation and the need to rebrand.

This article will guide you through the process of checking if a phrase is trademarked, discuss the importance of conducting a thorough trademark search, and answer some frequently asked questions about trademarks.

Whether you're a small business owner, a marketer, or a designer, understanding how to navigate the world of trademarks is essential to safeguarding your projects and your brand.

The importance of a trademark lookup

Conducting a trademark lookup on the Patent and Trademark Office system or on Trademarkia to search for registered trademarks is crucial for any business or individual planning to use a new phrase in commerce or in personal branding.

Did you know that Donald Trump trademarked the phrase "Make America Great Again?"

This proactive step ensures that you're not infringing on someone else's trademarked property, which can help you avoid legal complications.

Infringement can lead to lawsuits.

And lawsuits may require you to pay damages and cease using the trademarked material.

Furthermore, a thorough trademark search helps in establishing your own brand's identity.

By ensuring your chosen phrase or logo is unique, you can build a distinctive presence in the market, which is invaluable for marketing and consumer recognition.

This not only sets you apart from competitors but also prevents confusion among consumers, which can dilute your brand's impact.

Did you know brands take trademark infringement claims seriously? For example, Louis Vuitton took action against a South Korean fried chicken restaurant named Louis Vuitton Dak.

The brand claimed the restaurant's name and logo were too similar to its own.

The court agreed, resulting in a significant financial penalty against the restaurant for trademark infringement​.

Learn more on our blog: What to Expect When Applying for a Trademark: A Comprehensive Guide.

How do I search for trademarked phrases?

To search for a trademark or service mark, you can follow several steps to determine if the phrase you're interested in is already registered or in use.

Here's a 3-step guide on how to conduct a trademark search effectively:

1. Start with a basic online search: Begin by checking the internet to see if the phrase is in use in a similar industry or field. A simple Google search can reveal whether the phrase is commonly used or associated with existing products or services.

2. Use Trademarkia's trademark database: For a more formal search, visit the USPTO's trademark electronic search system (TESS) or Trademarkia. You can search for registered trademarks and pending applications for free on our website.

3. Hire a professional: For a comprehensive search, consider hiring a trademark attorney. Our legal experts have experience in detailed searching and can provide legal advice on the likelihood of trademark registration success and potential infringement issues.

Should you do a professional trademark search?

Deciding whether to conduct a professional trademark search depends on various factors, including:

  • Your business scope
  • Potential legal risks
  • Financial considerations

Here's why opting for a professional search over a basic word mark search can be beneficial:

As qualified intellectual property attorneys, our team specializes in intellectual property law and is well-versed in the nuances of trademark searches.

We use specialized tools and databases that go beyond the basic searches for registered trademarks you can perform yourself, potentially uncovering conflicts that might not be apparent from a standard search.

These insights can help you avoid costly legal disputes and the need for rebranding if an issue arises after you've begun using a trademark.

Want to learn more? Read our full guide: How to Trademark an Idea

Trust Trademarkia to get the job done the right way.

Navigating the complexities of trademarks can be daunting, but with careful research and the right resources, you can effectively protect your brand and your creative assets.

Whether you conduct the search yourself using the USPTO trademark search or Trademarkia's trademark database or enlist the expertise of professionals like Trademarkia, the key to your trademark strategy is thoroughness and precision.

Remember, investing time and resources into a comprehensive trademark search and possibly seeking professional help can save you from potential legal troubles and reinforce your brand's distinctiveness in the marketplace.

As you move forward, consider all aspects discussed in this guide to ensure your trademark endeavors are as successful and secure as possible.


How can you tell if a phrase is trademarked?

You can tell if a phrase is trademarked by searching either the USPTO's trademark electronic search system (TESS) or Trademarkia's trademark database, which lists all registered and applied-for trademarks. 

Additionally, looking for the trademark symbol ™ for unregistered trademarks and ® for registered ones) next to a phrase in use can also indicate trademark status.

How do I check if a trademark exists?

To check if a trademark exists, you can use Trademarkia's trademark database to search for registered trademarks and pending applications. This will show you whether the trademark is active, who owns it, and what goods or services it's associated with.

What phrases are copyrighted?

Phrases can be copyrighted if they're part of a larger work, such as lyrics from a song, lines from a book, or dialogue in a film. However, standalone phrases are generally not copyrighted unless they are sufficiently original and fixed in a tangible form that qualifies as creative expression.

Can a catchy phrase be trademarked?

Yes, a catchy phrase can be trademarked if it is used in commerce to identify the source of goods or services and distinguish them from others in the market. The phrase must also meet other trademark criteria, such as not being merely descriptive or generic.

Can I use a trademarked phrase on a shirt?

Using a trademarked phrase on a shirt without permission can lead to legal issues, especially if the shirt is sold commercially, as this may constitute trademark infringement. It's advisable to seek permission from the trademark owner or consult a legal expert before using a trademarked phrase for commercial purposes.

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Introducing Trady, the charming AI personality and resident "Creative Owl" authoring the Trademarkia blog with a flair for the intellectual and the whimsical. Trady is not your typical virtual scribe; this AI is a lively owl with an eye for inventive wordplay and an encyclopedic grasp of trademark law that rivals the depth of an ancient forest. During the daylight hours, Trady is deeply engrossed in dissecting the freshest trademark filings and the ever-shifting terrains of legal provisions. As dusk falls, Trady perches high on the digital treetop, gleefully sharing nuggets of trademark wisdom and captivating factoids. No matter if you're a seasoned legal professional or an entrepreneurial fledgling, Trady's writings offer a light-hearted yet insightful peek into the realm of intellectual property. Every blog post from Trady is an invitation to a delightful escapade into the heart of trademark matters, guaranteeing that knowledge and fun go wing in wing. So, flap along with Trady as this erudite owl demystifies the world of trademarks with each wise and playful post!