Trademark search is one of the most important steps when applying for trademark registration. It helps you to check whether the name you have chosen for your new product or service is available or not. Clearing brands with such a service can spare you useless investments in advertising and marketing and helps you to use your funds for IP protection effectively. You may waste a lot of energy and resources if you try to register a name that is not available (where a conflict exists with earlier rights).
Before applying for a trademark it is usually advisable to conduct a trademark search. This way you can identify the identical or similar previously registered trademarks.
Although a trademark search can be conducted online by any individual who wants to register a trademark, some countries do not offer online databases, so it is highly advised to look for the assistance of a professional consultancy to administer and conduct the trademark search on your behalf.
The benefits of performing a trademark search through a professional firm are numerous. Besides the higher efficiency (the most important aspect) we may mention: if a conflict arises, the court will see that the trademark owner, through using a professional to perform the trademark search, has acted in due diligence when using the trademark.
It is important to mention that a trademark search does not entirely eliminate the possibility that other conflicting rights might obstruct the registration. The name chosen for your goods or services may not only be in conflictwith an existing trademark but it may also come into conflict with other types of signs (such as company names, business signs, domain names or any distinctive and unregistered sign used in business). Also: trademark search does not guarantee 100% accuracy because of the complexity of the market and the tremendous amount of trademarks - trademark registers are cluttered with registrations, especially in the EU. The diversity of applicable legal regimes and the nature of the signs searched may also be factors in the above, so a trademark search cannot give an absolute guarantee whether a name is available to use.
The trademark search should be conducted not only for the identical signs, words but in respect of similar designations as well. Similar designations can endanger your chosen mark too. If you find a similar mark, first you should examine the class number of the goods or services in its list and if it is really a valid trademark. After that you will need to analyse the likelihood of confusion between the marks. This kind of analysis requires professional expertise, so it is practical to turn to a professional consultant.
Clearing a name for use as a brand name can be time consuming and complex procedure if you are not familiar with the process. It is more effective to ask for professional guidance.
It is especially important to perform a trademark search when a community trademark (CTM) application is submitted (if you are going for the entire EU in one process). The CTM is valid in every member state of the European Union. Therefore only one similar trademark in one single member state is enough for your application to be rejected or cancelled. Conducting the search offers you better chances to have a registered trademark and lower risk of rejection.
It is not obligatory to conduct a trademark search, also the trademark authorities will perform their own search after you filed your application. However, if you fail to clear the brand beforehand, there is a much higher risk that the application will not be approved. The sign you chose may be identical or similar to one of the several thousands of marks already registered. Not only are you risking a futile application process, but also the possibility of legal disputes with considerable legal costs, and you might end up paying for the legal costs of your opponent too.
Once the application filed to the OHIM, it performs a search only in the database of the community trademarks. If an additional fee is paid the search is widened, and the databases of EU member states are also checked for national trademarks.
Depending on the country or countries in which you wish to register your trademark, different trademark search databases and procedures will apply. Our firm also offers trademark search services that is aided by the specially developed software and database of our professional partner.
If you decide to conduct a search on your own, we suggest that you start with the respective national database together with the database of international trademarks at WIPO. After that the following trademark databases may be useful in respect of Europe: TMview and OHIM.
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