Trademarks and Service Marks

Trademark search registration is important in ensuring your trademark is successfully filed for and granted. Trademarks are characteristics that uniquely identify a brand or product. These characteristics may include markings, words, or even a mechanism or process. The primary core of a trademark is that it clearly represents the brand or product in a unique way in the market.

A service mark is similar to a trademark except that it applies to services. The service mark allows the market to know that a specific service from a certain brand, company, or person, is being represented by the service mark. Service marks are expansive and can include a lot of the branding, imagery, and words that comprise a service's unique image.

Here are some trademark statistics from the USPTO as of 2017:

• Total Active Trademarks Registered: 2.2 million

• New Registrations in 2017: 327,314

• New Applications in 2017: 594,107

Both trademarks and service marks are often called just "marks."

Mark registration has both federal and state components. If the mark is being used in interstate commerce, then you may be interested in registering it with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

How to Check if a Trademark Is Already Registered?

Because trademarks are clear brand distinguishers, businesses put great value in them, and that is why trademark registration exists. In using or registering your own business' trademarks you will need to be sure you are not infringing on the trademarks of others.

If you are found to be infringing on another person's trademark, not only will you be ordered to stop using that trademark, but you may face damages from a lawsuit by the trademark owner. Trademark lawsuits can be costly and prolonged, as well as unnecessary. By conducting a thorough trademark search beforehand, you may save yourself a lot of headache as well as costs in lost marketing materials and products.

Trademark searches are a cheap and generally easy preventative measure for what can be major and costly problems down the road. By doing a trademark search, you will also gain insight on how to make your trademark unique and thus more likely to be approved by regulatory authorities.

Many trademarks are rejected because while they are unique, they nonetheless are similar in many ways to trademarks that are already registered. The USPTO will determine this similarity to be enough to create confusion in the market among the general public, and thus reject the new trademark.

By conducting a trademark search with the USPTO, you will be able to see what trademarks out there may be similar and thus modify your trademark and application to avoid the USPTO determining your trademark to be too similar to existing trademarks.

How to Do a Registered Trademark Search?

The USPTO offers a free online trademark search system called TESS. TESS is relatively easy to use on a basic level. However, if you want to conduct an in-depth and complete trademark search, the system can become complex.

The point of doing a trademark search is to find any trademarks out there that may be similar. It is essentially trying to see if there are needles in the haystack. For example, you should not just search for the entire name you might be hoping to trademark but also variations and abbreviations of it.

A trademark may also cause confusion if a product in a different but still connected industry uses similar branding or wording. You should therefore look through several connected industries for trademark similarities.

TESS offers several search options to refine your search. If you are looking for non-word based trademarks, such as logos, the search becomes more complicated. You should then first look through the USPTO's Design Code guide, which will allow you to find classifications for different kinds of designs.

Searching for names on TESS will only return those names with almost near-identical spelling. If you want to look for modifications or abbreviations, you will need to modify your search. Compile a list of any trademarks you believe are similar to the one you are applying for.

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