Company Trademark Search: Everything You Need to Know
Performing a company trademark search will determine if your mark is already in use before you start the actual application process for registering your trademark.3 min read
Performing a company trademark search will determine if your mark is already in use before you start the actual application process for registering your trademark.
The Application Process for a Trademark or Service Mark
The easiest way to register for a trademark or service mark is to go to the website for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application process involves a search of the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to see whether you are able to trademark your logo. You can also use the database search to gather relevant information, follow the application process, submit your documents, then pay a fee for registration. Federal trademark protection is granted to the first person or business entity to use a mark in the geographic area it operates in and regardless of if the mark is registered or not.
How Long Does it Take to File a Trademark Application Online?
It doesn't take long to trademark a logo or business name. The average time spent on registering should be about 10 minutes for an unregistered trademark and about an hour for a registered trademark. The USPTO's website says it takes about six months to send a response after you file an application.
What to Do if Your Mark Has Been Registered by Another Company
If your mark has been registered by another company even though you used it first, your application will be rejected. You may need help from a lawyer with further procedures. In the event you find another company has an application pending or has registered a trademark and that company shares business products in common with yours, they have priority over the mark. If the other owner of the mark used their trademark for a short period of time in a small geographic area, you may have the opportunity to resubmit the registration application with the USPTO.
What Is a Preliminary Trademark Search?
This is the first step to determine whether it's worth filing for a trademark. It's an important step that helps you make the decision to spend time and money to register your mark.
What Is the Difference Between a Strong and Weak Mark?
The characteristics of the design determine the difficulties another party would have in copying your mark for the purposes of counterfeiting or creating a similar design that's allowed by law for the purposes of competition. Consider using suggestive or arbitrary marks that don't directly describe your product or services in order to create a strong mark. Generic or descriptive marks that use common or popular phrases may be allowable for the purposes of registration, but they are harder to defend. Trademarks with features that are easily reproduced or counterfeited are weak marks.
How Do I Determine the Correct Class(es) for My Product?
There are multiple classes to select from when registering a mark. You need to select the right classification to increase the chances of success with your application. Here are the most commonly requested classes for products:
- Clothing/Shoes (class 25)
- Electric/Scientific (class 9)
- Printing/Paper (class 16)
The most commonly requested classes for services are the following:
- Computer/Science/Legal (class 42)
- Education/Entertainment (class 41)
- Publicity/Business (class 35)
Make sure you have chosen the correct class for your business. The USPTO does not refund fees if the application for your trademark is rejected. You must include the appropriate class designation for your trademark when you complete the application, because a majority of trademark offices around the world use commercial and industrial groupings to help search for a potential infringement issue. Another reason you need to know which trademark class(es) are related to your mark is for your protection. You need to use the most appropriate class(es) in order to compare your mark to ones already used by your competition in your chosen markets.
Analyzing Your Search Results
You may find hundreds of trademarks that are similar to yours that are in use across the country. You'll need to know how to sort through these results and determine which trademarks you can't use. If you find many similar marks, you may want to work with an attorney in order to get a legal opinion regarding the feasibility of using your trademark without encountering infringement issues.
If you need help with a company trademark search, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.