How to Check to See If a Business Name Is Trademarked

By Brenna Davis

Trademark law protects intellectual property, such as business names. Trademarks are an important means of identifying goods produced by a particular company and an essential part of any branding campaign. Many trademarks are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but not all trademarked names are registered. Unregistered trademarks may be protected by the Lanham Act and common law trademark protections.

Step 1

Look for a trademark symbol accompanying the business name or mark you are inquiring about. Registered trademarks are frequently denoted by a circle with an "R" inside. Unregistered trademarks are commonly denoted by placing a "TM" symbol next to the trademarked item. Not all trademark owners elect to use these symbols, however, so the lack of a symbol does not necessarily mean the item is not trademarked.

Step 2

Contact the business owner to determine if the item is trademarked. This is often the most effective and easiest way to verify the trademark status of a name or other mark. If it isn't already trademarked, the business owner can tell you if the company intends to trademark the item in the near future.

Protect your brand. Register My Trademark Now

Step 3

Conduct a trademark search with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. You can access the Trademark Electronic Search System online. Use the "Basic Word Mark Search" function to search for business names. You can search based on business name or trademark holder. To conduct an in-person search, visit your local Patent and Deposit Library Office and ask to search the trademark catalogs. An employee can run a search for you; typically, a fee is charged for searches run by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office employees.

Protect your brand. Register My Trademark Now
How Important Is a DBA?

References

Resources

Related articles

How to Use TESS for Trademark

A trademark is a unique symbol, phrase or word used to distinguish one brand of goods or services from another. Technically, a trademark is protected as soon as it is used to conduct business, although registering the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office provides additional advantages. In any case, a search of the agency’s Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS, can help to ensure a duplicate mark does not already exist.

Are Company Slogans Copyrighted?

Federal copyright law grants exclusive rights to the use of “original works of authorship,” whether or not they are published. Copyright law protects a broad range of works, including books, poems, songs, paintings and even computer programs. However, copyright law normally does not protect short phrases, such as a company slogan. Trademark law, on the other hand, specifically protects slogans that companies use to identify themselves as the maker of a product.

Do You Have to Trademark Paintings?

A trademark is an emblem or phrase that uniquely identifies goods and services in the marketplace. Trademark rights attach immediately upon use of a mark to identify goods in commerce, but registration at the state and federal levels is a way to put the public on notice of a person's claim to rights in the mark. A painting may only be subject to trademark protection under limited circumstances.

File a Trademark Online. LegalZoom. Learn More.

Related articles

How to Search Trademark Names for Restaurants

A trademark is a phrase, tagline, name, word or design -- or some combination of these elements -- that is unique. ...

How to Obtain a Trademark for a Food Recipe

You may register a trademark only for the name of your recipe or the name of the food your recipe is describing. ...

How to Identify a Trademark

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark is essentially the same thing as a brand name. ...

How Do I Know If I'm Violating a Trademark?

A trademark identifies and distinguishes the origin of a product or service in the marketplace. It uses either a word, ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED