How to Check a Name for a Trademark

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

How to Check a Name for a Trademark

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

Trademarks, which can essentially be logos, are crucial for any business, as consumers generally associate a specific logo with a particular business.

Man in office sitting at desk resting on his elbows with his hands crossed

If another business uses the same or similar logo as your business, it could confuse consumers about which business is actually yours. The other company may provide a service similar to yours and have every intention on trying to profit off of your good business practices. When consumers use the other service and are less than satisfied, your business could suffer.

When you're starting a new business, you want to make sure you're not infringing on the trademark of another business. You don't want to confuse your customers or clients about who you are and what your business does. Conducting a trademark search is the best way to make sure your mark is unique.

How to Conduct a Federal Trademark Search

You first want to navigate your browser to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. Once there, you'll look for the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).

Using this link will allow you to search all federal trademarks and pending trademarks. You can search for both text and images. Make sure you search for similar text and not just identical text, as there could be other logos currently trademarked that are similar to the one you wish to use.

When you're looking at the search results, you can click on a "check status" button. This allows you to see if any of the words are used for a business similar to yours. If you find something similar, you might adjust your trademark.

Once you determine your mark is unique and available to use, register it as soon as possible. Registration ensures that no one else can use your trademark. Consulting an experienced trademark attorney will ensure your trademark is processed correctly.

How to Conduct a State Trademark Search

Similarly, you'll want to conduct a state trademark search. In order to do this, you'll first need to locate the state agency that oversees trademark registration, which is usually the Secretary of State.

You can then visit the website and conduct a search, keeping the same considerations in mind that you used for your federal trademark search. You'll want to run variations on your searches to identify any identical or similar trademarks that are already registered in your respective state.

Trademark Registration is Important

Registering your trademark is an important step in opening and growing your business. Your customers will associate your business, including its name, catch phrase, and logo, with the type of products and/or services you offer. If there is a business with a similar trademark that doesn't care about its reputation like you do, your reputation could end up suffering when consumers confuse your business with theirs.

Trademark registration also protects your business. When someone else uses your logo or one that is similar, you may take legal action against them. If your trademark isn't registered, however, your legal battle will be costly and time consuming.

Registering a trademark is a complex process. But that shouldn't deter you, as it is an essential part of running your business.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.