Trademark Availability Searches and Opinions
Trademarks are used to distinguish your company and its products and services from the competition. Trademarks are, therefore, essential to your company's identity, reputation and market share. As with any important business decision, choosing and protecting your company's trademarks involves a significant investment of time and capital that can provide your company with important competitive advantages, or, if not handled properly, result in wasted time, mis-spent marketing funds, loss of good will and potentially unwanted litigation for infringement.
Before investing the time and resources to protect a trademark or launch a product line or marketing campaign, it is very important to know that you can use the trademark you choose for the particular product or service; and that the competition can't. Depending on the country where trademark protection is sought, trademark rights generally accrue to the first user or first filer of an application to register the trademark, therefore, it is important to perform an availability search to determine if the trademark is available for you to use and if you can prevent it from being used by others. Reviewing that search with an attorney experienced in intellectual property law will help to (1) evaluate and quantify the risk of whether the use of a particular trademark might infringe another party's rights and expose you to risk, and (2) prevent wasting time and money filing for trademark registrations and/or devising a marketing strategy, only to then find out that you can't use the trademark.
Generally our availability search strategy is two-fold. First, we conduct a preliminary review of publicly accessible databases of applications and registrations filed with the appropriate governmental trademark authority in the United States or foreign jurisdiction. As well, we conduct a search on the Internet to examine common law use of trademarks that may not be the subject of a registration or application. That preliminary search is intended to be an inexpensive and quick way to eliminate potential trademarks so not to incur the costs associated with more comprehensive searches. If the trademark is not "knocked-out" by the preliminary search, we than obtain a search by a reputable trademark search company that has the ability to access many more databases in a relatively efficient and economic manner. After review of the search report, we discuss potential issues with the client to craft a strategy to obtain protection of the trademark in the markets desired. Also, if the circumstances dictate we provide a written report of our findings.