Searching for Similar Trademarks
July 22, 2012 | By Vela Wood
“Is anybody else using my mark now?”
So let’s say that you have come up with a great name, logo, and/or slogan – now you need to make sure your mark is not too similar to someone else’s mark. You (and/or your attorney) need to research the name, logo, and/or slogan to determine if there are any similarities in appearance and sound. Similarities can range from slightly different spellings, using the same words in a different order, or different spellings but same sound.
You also need to establish what area/field you are in and what area/field another mark is in to determine if the marks are similar. Try Googling your mark to see if a similar mark is in the same area/field as your mark. For example, if you tried to name your shoe company Nikeys, you would be rejected by the USPTO as Nike sells shoes and is a registered trademark of Nike Inc.
The USPTO has implemented several tools on their website that are designed to assist individuals in searching for pending and registered marks. You can access them by clicking here.
“What if there is a similar trademark but it’s in a different field?”
If your mark is similar to another’s mark, check to see what area/field each mark is being used in. Will your product or service be sold in the same store or advertised in the same market? Let’s look at another Nike example: If you are in the business of wine production, you could probably call your wine Niké Vines. With a slightly different pronunciation and completely different category (wine v. athletic apparel), the USPTO would likely determine that the consumer would not be confused with regard to the owner of the mark, you v. Nike Inc.
Of course, before submitting anything to the USPTO, you should give us a call or consult with an attorney. But hopefully the info above will help you in your initial trade mark search steps.
Posted in Intellectual Property, Startups, Trademarks
Vela | Wood is a boutique corporate law firm that focuses on small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups.