You have a great idea for a brand? Congratulations! But how do you know whether the mark is available?
Your first step should be doing a trademark clearance search. There are two types – a knockout search and a comprehensive search.
But what is the difference?
What is a knockout search?
A knockout search, sometimes referred to as a preliminary trademark search, is a quick search of the USPTO register to determine whether there are any identical marks for similar goods or services. This search doesn’t guarantee that the mark is available or even whether it meets the standards for registrability. But it does let you know that the mark itself is available, so you can decide whether it’s worth it to invest in a comprehensive search.
Trademarkia offers free online knockout search:
What is a comprehensive search?
After a quick search, you may see a list of
possible trademark conflicts. How do you know which of these conflicts are likely to be a problem
and which ones aren't - and whether any of them will require you to choose a new trademark - is
another matter entirely. As Nolo.com's Beth Laurence writes, While you may find hundreds of similar
trademarks being used across the country, you will need to know how to sort through your search
results and determine which trademarks you are prevented from using. In this situation, you may need a Comprehensive Trademark Search.
The comprehensive search is much more robust. The comprehensive search examines additional resources,
which is important because it will capture common law usage in addition to just federally-registered trademarks.
The comprehensive search will compare many possible variations and will check for phonetic equivalents and engage in pattern-matching to identify each important portion of the mark that may conflict with others. Analyzing the search will also weigh the relatedness of the goods or services with actual evidence.
You will receive a comprehensive search report to help avoid duplications of pre-existing marks.