Explained: Why & How to Conduct a Trademark Search?

Trademarks are sought to protect the identity of a business/company. Performing a trademark search is a crucial step before adopting a trademark. When a trademark search is conducted, the possibility of a trademark being similar to an existing trademark is checked. Individuals and companies who fail to perform a trademark search early on often regret later when they find themselves embroiled in expensive legal disputes or in situations when they are compelled to change their trademark—both of which could have been easily avoided with a simple trademark search.

What is a trademark search?

A trademark search is a search made in the database of the Trademark Registry. The search determines whether a proposed trademark is available for use in connection with certain goods or services. In the search, similar word marks as well as phonetically similar names in a specific class is comprehensively searched.

Advantages of trademark search:

Firstly, and most importantly, a trademark search will tell whether someone else have already adopted your proposed trademark or adopted a highly similar one.  If you adopt a trademark that is already in use by someone else, you may be inviting a trademark infringement lawsuit. Infringement suits involve a huge amount of money and, losing or settling the suit means either paying monetary damages or discontinuing the use of your trademark or both.

Secondly, a trademark search will clearly list any prior trademark registrations or pending applications that are likely to prevent you from registering your trademark with the Trademark Registry in future.  This will save time and money of filing an application to register a trademark that has little chance of actually getting registered.

Thirdly, a trademark search will help you assess the relative strength of your mark by showing you how many other similar trademarks are already there in the marketplace.


How to conduct a trademark search?

An online trademark search in the Trademark Registry can be done free of charge at the link [Interface] :

Search Interface is divided into three category

a) Wordmark- For similar representation of names

b) Device Mark-For similar artistic representation

c) Phonetic-For phonetically similar words.

Search Parameters

First select the search criteria from the options given- the options are Wordmark, Device mark, Phonetic.

For example, to perform a Wordmark search, select “Wordmark” from the Categories and insert the keywords of your proposed trademark in the box corresponding to Wordmark. From the Prefix drop-down menu select either “Starts With” or “Contains”.

In “Starts With” option, any trademark starting with the entered keyword will be searched; whereas in the “Contains” option, any trademark containing the entered keyword as part of the name would be searched.

From the condition dropdown you can select prefixes either ‘AND’ or ‘OR’ Category. The class related your services or product belongs to your proposed trademark is entered in the box corresponding to ‘CLASS’. There are 45 classes of trademark registration. Classes’ 1-34 deals with various goods and Classes 35-45 deals with services.

After the required fields are thus entered, click on ‘Start Search’ button to view your search result. The details of each of the trademark applications would be shown in the result and to create a report, you can select the applications you want to view in further detail by marking them in the boxes available and clicking “Report”

After doing the trademark search if it is found that there are no similar trademarks on record then you can proceed for the trademark registration by applying it at the Trademark Office.

[Guest article contributed by Pankhi Dutta, an IP Analyst at Intepat IP Services Pvt Ltd, Bangalore]

Also see: Trademarks registration in India – The Entrepreneur’s Guide

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