How to Check for a Registered Trademark?
If you're starting a new business or creating a new brand, it's important to check for any existing trademarks. This is especially true if you're hoping to make money off of your name or brand by selling products or services under that name. If you don't conduct thorough trademark searches, then you could end up spending lots of money on advertisements and marketing materials that use your company's registered trademarked name without realizing it's already in use by someone else. Let's talk about how to perform these searches so that you can avoid legal issues later on down the road.
How to Check a Trademark?
To check whether a registered trademark has been granted, you can use the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to search on the status of a mark. TESS is updated weekly and records only those applications and registrations that have reached final action by the USPTO. You can also conduct an advanced search using TESS to narrow down your results by filing date, status and classification.
If you are unable to find information on your potential mark through TESS, you may want to consider doing more manual research into common law trademarks and social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter where other users may be using similar names without legal protection.
Check the USPTO Trademark Database
The USPTO maintains a database of all federally registered trademarks. Assuming you have access to the internet and are able to search for your mark in that database, you can check its status there.
If your trademark is not in the USPTO's online database, then it has not been federally registered with the USPTO (or any other similar agency). If this is the case, then we recommend that you speak with an intellectual property attorney who can help guide you through next steps.
Search Common Law Trademark
If a proposed mark is not federally registered, then you can do a more thorough search of common law trademarks. Common law trademarks are not registered with any government agency but are still protected under certain circumstances.
You will want to search for the proposed mark in text, images, patents and videos. Check social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to make sure your brand name isn't already being used by another business.
Common Law Trademarks Protection
Common law trademarks also can be protected under certain circumstances. For example:
- If you advertise your business in a way that makes it clear to customers that the goods or services are associated with you, such as through a logo or slogan, then you may have established common law rights in the mark.
- You may have acquired common law rights by using a brand name for so long that customers associate it with only you and not other companies offering similar products or services.
Use Google and Search for the Proposed Mark
Once you have a good idea of what your proposed mark looks like and feel comfortable that it is unique, run a search on Google. Search for the proposed mark in text, images, patents and videos. If you find any results with similar marks to yours, check their status under Trademark Status. If they are pending or registered trademarks this could be an issue.
Check Social Media Sites
Social media is one of the most effective ways to find out if a brand name you want to use has already been trademarked by another company. If you're planning on using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in your marketing strategy, search for your proposed brand name on these platforms to see if there are any other businesses that have the same or similar name. You should also look at any logos used by those businesses and make sure yours doesn't look too much like theirs. If it does, choose another name.
Use these steps to check if there are existing trademarks of your own name or brand name
You can use these steps to check if there are existing trademarks of your own name or brand name:
- Search for your brand name on Google. Check if it is registered as a domain name, and see how many results come up. If the number of results is large, then someone may have already claimed it as a trademark.
- Search for your brand name on social media. Look at what comes up when you search for your brand's Twitter handle or Facebook page, then check to see whether any other profiles are using those names as well. If so, this indicates that someone else might have already legally claimed those usernames and URLs in order to protect their intellectual property from being misused by others who might try to pass off their goods under those same names (such as counterfeiters). This step will also help you learn about any new competitors with whom you need not compete directly yet!
- Search for your brand name in text and images on Google Images , Bing Images , Yahoo Image Search , DuckDuckGo Image !
We hope these tips have helped you to check for a previously registered trademark and make sure that no one else is using your name or brand. If you're still unsure about how to do it, contact an attorney who specializes in trademark law so they can help you sort through the process.