Trademark searches refer to any action taken for the purpose of determining whether and/or a trademark is used in commerce. Trademark searches can be narrow in scope or can include results from every avenue for trademark protection for every mark is remotely similar to the mark that is the subject of the search. An appropriate searching strategy will consider the nature of the mark, the nature of the goods/services the mark covers, the timeline for bringing the mark to commerce, and the applicants allocation of resources.
Trademark searches are generally classified as being either a knock-out search or a full search. Each type of search is explained below.
A knock out search refers to a search of the Federal Trademark Register to determine if the trademark in question is likely to fail in securing a trademark registration.
A full search refers to searches that cover all avenues for trademark protection in the trademark system that is the subject of the search. Searching firms use computer software to run these searches and categorize the results according to how close they are to the mark that is the subject of the search. The results are then compiled into a search report containing essential data for each of the marks the results cite. This will include marks that are identical to the subject mark as well as close variations on the subject mark that cover potentially related goods and services. Search reports are usually several hundred pages. Attorneys then review the results.
Design mark searches cover marks that include a non-verbal graphic or stylized font. These searches return results that show similar graphics for similar goods/services.