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Should I do a trademark search?

It is very important for you to conduct a trademark search before using a new mark or seeking a state or federal registration for a mark. If you do not do any search, you may later find that you cannot protect the mark you have been using because someone else owns the rights to it. Worse yet, this would mean that you are infringing the other mark, and because you did not do a search you may have to pay that person your profits and additional punitive damages.

Trademark searches are not perfect - small and very localized uses of a mark may not show up in most common searches, even in searches done by a professional search firm. In addition, the Patent and Trademark Office tends to be slow in registering a mark, so an application may be filed but not in one of the PTO databases yet. However, taking the effort to conduct a search will help ensure that you choose a mark not being used by someone else and will help protect you in the event that someone later claims you are infringing their rights.

How do I do a trademark search?