Why do a Trademark Search?
There are hundreds of thousands of businesses across the country – millions globally. This means that there is a possibility that your brand, the trade, or service you want to distinguish from others and protect, might already be someone else’s. An intellectual property attorney’s job is to see that they find a way to protect your IP. To do this, they search a variety of sources to see if your business can still receive protection regionally, nationally, or beyond, based on a host of criteria.
A clearance opinion and search will determine whether your mark is distinguishable from others in your field, as well as others outside of it. Two companies might have similar names but be in completely different industries. A trademark search will inform you about the results and offer you the best course of action based on those. Determining your business’ approach to protecting its trademark can be most effectively done through a qualified trademark lawyer’s search and clearance opinion. These searches and opinions can save time and money for many businesses. There are generally several types of searches and opinions, and each has its purpose.
What are the Types of Trademark Searches and Opinions?
Knock-out / Exact match
These are straight forward searches relying on databases like the USPTO and state secretary of state offices. Generally, these searches are intended to check for obvious issues, before deciding on whether to take some future action such as a formal clearance search. These opinions are limited in scope and do not provide some of the protections available when a more thorough search and opinion are conducted.
A registration analysis focuses on the prior registrations and applications to evaluate the likelihood of success of a given application and to plot a strategy to provide obtaining a registration that meets your businesses’ needs. These searches are extensive and include searches from both the USPTO, as well as other public resources.
Formal Clearance Opinion
The search necessary to create a Clearance Opinion is much more thorough than for an initial screening search and is generally conducted by third-party vendors. The results of these searches are then reviewed by an attorney and a formal written opinion is provided identifying relevant risks and potential solutions. The benefit of a properly conducted Clearance Opinion is that in many jurisdictions the opinion can be used to show the good faith of the party adopting a mark. This good-faith can then be used to limit potential liability and, in some cases, reduce the chance a court will find there is a likelihood of confusion between the marks.
Kunkle Trademark and Legal can provide these searches and opinions and can customize these searches to specifically address your companies needs.