A trademark availability check isn’t going to help you until you understand what a trademark is.
We’re not necessarily talking about Conan O’Brian’s trademark hair or Adele’s trademark voice, but that’s not too far from the path.
They’re everywhere you look, and yet do you really know what they are? Trademarks are a strange animal and it’s necessary that you get to know them if you have business endeavors of any kind. Whether you’re making your own trademark or using other trademarks, there’s a whole lot to learn.
What are trademarks?
The definition of a trademark is a pretty simple one. It’s only later that the topic gets complicated. Basically, a trademark is just a sign of some kind that distinguishes a company from all the rest. Trademarks sit under the umbrella of “intellectual property.” A trademark can come in many different forms. Maybe it’s an image or a phrase. Taylor Swift is known for having quite a few trademarked phrases including “This Sick Beat”. Indeed, there’s a lot of controversy over what can and should be trademarked.
Are you thinking about buying some intellectual property? If you do, you will be able to take people to court if they use your trademark without permission. It’s important that your company has a signature and unless it’s protected, it’s useless and can be used by just about anyone. A trademark might seem a simple concept enough, but if you overlook the issue, it could cost you a lot down the road.
When talking about trademarks, you’re bound to get into some murky water. For instance, some marks, logos, phrases (taglines & slogans), images, etc, become trademarks over time, if by chance they simply grow to become synonymous with a particular product or service. When we think of trademarks in this way, it’s pretty apparent that a trademark is not a narrow concept at all. Anything that conspicuously distinguishes something from something else, in a sense, can technically be a trademark.
What about those little circles with the “TM” and “R” in them? What do they mean? The “TM” refers to a trademark and the “R” refers to a registered trademark. While they serve as gentle reminders that the trademark is protected by law, they aren’t necessary. There are both unregistered and registered trademarks out there, the latter obviously carrying more weight in a court of law. Most of the trademarks you see on TV and in magazines are registered.
Just as with physical property, intellectual property – when handled in court – is dealt with based on its jurisdiction.
There are five basic kinds of trademarks: distinctive, arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, and generic. On the other hand, there are some symbols that can never be used in trademarks, like national flags. It’s also important to note that national and international trademark laws vary, so especially if you are conducting business overseas, you should be aware of that.
A trademark can open your company up to all kinds of business and separate it from the pack, but if it’s not formed carefully, it may misrepresent and misdirect your company. So choose your trademark intelligently and make sure you understand the law backing it up so that you can put it to good work.
How to do a trademark availability check for FREE?
Over the last decade, I’ve started probably close to 100 brands and help hundreds of customers start theirs. A trademark availability check is one of the first few things I do when naming a business.
I’ve probably spent hundreds of hours doing research over the years and found a free and easy way to search trademarks.
The main tool is from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office“. But, if you went through the “Naming A Business” post you know I also use Knowem.com for my basic research getting started.
Please keep in mind that there is “Legal Stuff” associated with this process so please consult with a lawyer and do not take anything I say as legal advice. I just wanted to share the tool with you as a basic search to start the process. I don’t know any of the legal sides and should NOT be listened to as an expert in the manner… EVER! (I am serious! I need a disclaimer here so I want you to understand. Call the professionals!)
The search is an easy process. Once you get to the Trademark Availability Check Tool (Click Here), you will want to click on the button “search our trademark database.”
From here you can use their resources and check for trademark availability.
Like I said I’m not a legal professional and don’t want you to think that this is legal advice so I’m not going to try and get any deeper into the trademark search tool from “USPTO”.