While some individuals choose to hire attorneys to walk them through the process of applying for a trademark, others choose to use a trademark research firm, which can cost thousands of dollars less. It is important to remember when hiring someone to do your research that they not only search through Federal and State trademark records for name similarities, but also Common-Law listings.
Many people are under the impression that they can perform their own comprehensive search utilizing the help of search engines, in addition to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (herein referred to as the USPTO). While it is a good idea to become familiar with the USPTO website, individuals sometimes believe that the data they collect from this website is truly representative of the trademarked names which are currently being used. The USPTO’s website is never a thorough way to search the name you’re hoping to trademark! The website is not updated regularly, and in addition to this, you can ONLY search Federal trademark records on the USPTO, NOT State trademark records OR Common-Law records!
It is imperative to search Federal and State trademark records AND Common-Law records because it is the only way to ensure that your search was done in a comprehensive manner. Federal and State trademarks records are looking at businesses that have either a federally registered trademark, or those who have registered a state trademark. When these records are searched, any federal or state trademarks that are either pending or registered will be visible to the researcher. Common-Law records examine those businesses who are in business but not have necessarily filed for a Federal or a State trademark. When Common-Law records are searched, thousands upon thousands of newspaper articles, city business listings, periodicals, incorporation listings, DBAs, LLCs, etc. are examined for any name similarities. Although such businesses do not have a trademark, they might have “first-use rights” to the name. This could mean that they still have ownership over the name within their trade area AND the capacity to take legal recourse if they determine that your name and business is the same, or similar.
If the research proves clear, the next step is to prepare and file the application. This can be done by anyone; however, the USPTO is very particular about how the application is prepared, so it’s best to leave it to professionals.
Three Steps — Federal & State trademark search, US National Common-Law search and Application Preparation & Filing – and the Trademark could be YOURS!