Conducting a service mark search is an important part of securing your service mark. It will involve searching for other service marks that are similar enough to yours to cause confusion, using characteristics such as wording, look, and association.

What Is a Service Mark?

Service marks are trademarks which represent services. Regular trademarks represent products, while service marks are for products that essentially are not tangible or physical.

The service mark serves the same function as a trademark, which is to clearly indicate the service's association with a specific company, brand, or person. The service mark will clearly seperate the service from others in the marketplace and allow consumers to recognize its origin and association.

What kinds of characteristics can be included in a service mark are just as wide as with regular trademarks. These characteristics can include everything from words to pictures to sounds.

It is absolutely vital to make sure your service mark does not infringe on a service mark that is already in existence and registered. By conducting a service mark search, you will be able to see what service marks are registered and if they might conflict with and exclude yours.

You apply for a service mark in the same way as a trademark and both protect the designated item in the same way. The primary difference is merely that trademarks are for products while service marks are for services.

Here are some benefits of registering your service mark and making sure your service mark is not infringing on the marks of others:

•You will have national notice of your service mark.

•The service mark gets documentation and proof of its existence.

•You will gain legal rights and claims you can pursue in courts for your service mark against infringers.

•If you'd like to file in another country, you likely now can.

•You can work with U.S. customs to halt foreign imports that infringe on your service mark.

These are all benefits of having a properly registered service mark. Yet in order to ensure you have it properly registered, you will need to first do a thorough service mark search.

What Is the Turnaround Time on Your Search Service?

Service mark search services exist than can assist you with your search. Many of these services will only take a few days at most and will do a professional search, as that is their specialty.

What Are Pending Service Marks?

It is also worth taking note of service makings that are pending. These are marks that are not formally registered yet, but they already have been filed for and are in the pipeline for registration.

What Are Dead or Abandoned Service Marks?

Dead service marks are those service marks that are no longer effective. Maybe an application simply was abandoned or the service mark was not properly maintained. If a service mark is considered dead, you will be able to register your service mark even if it conflicts with that mark.

What Are Live Service Marks?

If a mark is registered, it is considered live and can be used to stop your service mark from being registered. In contrast, if a service mark is in pending status, it is also considered live and can prevent your registration.

What Are Common Law Rights?

Even though registering your service mark will give you many beneficial advantages, you will still have many rights even if you don't formally register it with the government. You will automatically receive common law protection from your service mark if you are the first person to use it in business or are the first to submit an application with the USPTO demonstrating legitimate intent to soon use it for business purposes.

How Do I Search for Existing Service Marks?

The USPTO offers a free service mark search service called "TESS." There are also companies that will do a search on your behalf, as a thorough and complete search can be both complicated and yet extremely important.

If you need help with your service mark 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, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.