If you’re like me, you wouldn’t want to pay for something that you could get for free. When it comes to a federal trademark search, a lot of people believe that using the Trademark Office’s free search system available on its website is just as good as working with a trademark attorney who charges a fee for conducting a federal trademark search on your behalf. Well, let me explain the reasons why that’s not the case.
The primary reason why you should hire a trademark attorney to perform your trademark search is because the attorney will provide you with an opinion as to whether adopting, using, and attempting to register your trademark would violate someone else’s trademark rights. In addition, there are quite a few categories of trademarks that are ineligible for federal registration under any circumstances. An experienced trademark lawyer will be able to tell you whether your trademark falls into one of those categories so that you do not spend time and money filing a trademark application that will assuredly be rejected by the Trademark Office. Unless you have carefully studied the federal trademark laws and know how to interpret the information in a trademark application or trademark registration owned by someone else, any trademark search you do on your own will likely prove to be somewhat unhelpful.
In addition, the basic trademark search function provided through the Trademark Office electronic search system will only reveal substantially identical trademarks. It will not uncover “confusingly similar” variations or intentional misspellings that would likely present significant obstacles to federally registering your trademark. For instance, a search of the word JUMP may not reveal “jumped,” “jumping,” “jumps,” “jumpp,” “jummp,” “ju-mp,” and “ijump.” I generally suggest that you begin your research by using the Trademark Office’s website to look for clearly obvious problems. If you’re lucky and don’t find any, the next step would be to hire a trademark lawyer to search for any confusingly similar trademarks that your cursory search would have missed.
Finally, if your trademark consists of common English language words, a federal trademark search using the Trademark Office’s website will probably return an enormous number of pending applications and existing registrations owned by others. If the search returns a few hundred hits or more, it would be practically impossible to go through that number of results and analyze which trademarks are potentially problematic and which ones pose no problem at all. Furthermore, if your trademark incorporates non-English words or characters, the Trademark Office’s search feature will usually fail to catch their English equivalents, meaning you would also have to perform a search of your trademark’s English translation. It goes without saying that a trademark lawyer can save you all of this time and effort while also providing you with peace of mind that your trademark search was thoroughly completed.
If you have any questions about the importance and value of working with a trademark attorney, or perhaps are ready to have an attorney assist you with your trademark search, please do not hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.