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city building with Starbuck's trademarked logo

Trademark Search

When choosing a business or product name, it is essential to perform a trademark search to determine whether another business is already using an identical or confusingly similar mark. The need for performing a search holds for both word marks (corporate names) and image marks (such as logos).

Performing a trademark search helps prevent selecting a business or product name or logo, printing brochures, running ads, developing a website, and developing a reputation, only to be forced to stop using the name shortly after.

There are several different types of trademark searches.

A federal trademark search is the most critical type of US trademark search. A federal trademark search will uncover registered trademarks, dead trademarks, and trademarks that are pending registration but are not yet registered.

Generally, there are two types of federal trademark searches: (1) the “knockout” federal trademark search and (2) the comprehensive federal trademark search.


"Knockout" Search

The “knockout” federal trademark search is performed using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), available on the USPTO website. The knockout search is intended to uncover marks that are substantially identical to your mark and could be in conflict.  Although the TESS search is fundamental, it’s the best place to begin a trademark search.

However, while a knockout search can help identify a directly conflicting mark, it will not tell you whether your mark is safe to use in commerce and whether the mark will be approved for registration by the USPTO. 

If the “knockout” search did not uncover any apparent direct conflicts, the next step is to invest in a comprehensive federal trademark search.  This comprehensive federal trademark search provides more significant guidance regarding trademark availability and registration eligibility for a mark.


Comprehensive Search

A comprehensive federal trademark search is generally performed using specialized software to search through the USPTO records to identify those marks currently registered or pending registration for which there may be a likelihood of confusion with the mark.


Common law marks or state trademark registrations are not part of the federal trademark search because the USPTO won’t give them any consideration when determining the eligibility of your mark for registration.

Based on the comprehensive federal trademark search results, the odds of successfully overcoming any potential likelihood of confusion rejections may be assessed.

TCP Law can help perform either a knockout or comprehensive trademark search and help evaluate the search results. For more information, please get in touch with us.

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