When you have your own business sooner or later you will start thinking about your branding and how to protect it from unfair use by competitors.
All of this is normal because when one business takes off, gaining some traction and achieving some success, other market participants will try to take advantage of its reputation and recognizability amongst the consumers.
From that perspective, every business owner should be prepared with a proper trademark protection strategy.
Building a good brand name is not an easy task. From one side, such a name should follow so many marketing requirements, from the other the name should be unique, that is to say, it must not be registered as a trademark by someone else.
This, in particular, is essential. If your brand is already registered with the Patent Office of the country where you are operating as a business, this means that you can become a trademark infringer even without suspecting this.
It can be a trap because in such cases a lawsuit can be really expensive and in the end, you probably will need to change your beloved brand.
What is the solution in such situations? Well, it is a simple one, just check the official trademark database of your state Patent Office. This will show you whether there are earlier marks or not.
What do you need to know when you conduct such searches?
In brief, the things that can be bear in mind are:
- Every trademark is valid only for the goods and services for which it is registered. This means that when you compare two marks they have to share common G&S. If this is the case it could create a problem. All goods and services are grouped in classes called Nice Classes. You can classify your G&S using this free tool TMCLASS.
- Trademark protection scope covers not only other identical signs but similar too. For example, a trademark INEX for bicycles can stop a later mark INIX for bicycles.
- Assessment of identical marks is relatively easy. Both marks should be absolutely identical in every aspect. They have to be for identical G&S too.
- Assessment of similar marks, however, could be tricky. This requires in-depth legal knowledge and understanding of the case law in the relevant country.
It is advisable, such searches to be done through the brand-building process because this will allow you to make modifications to the brand before launching and filing a trademark application. It can save you a lot of money and time.
In case you want to learn how to do trademark searches in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand you can check this Udemy Complete course on trademark search.