Thursday, April 24, 2008

Searching for Trademarks: An Annotated Bibliography

A few people have asked recently about what they need to do to register a mark for a prospective business. Aside from shelling out a few hundred bucks, all a person needs to do is to make sure that nobody else is using the mark in the same way.

Here are websites to help you do that, particularly if you live or work in San Francisco:

TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) comes from the USPTO and contains every trademark currently registered, applications, and many abandoned trademarks from the past. Keep in mind that not all trademarks have to be registered, and those that are registered don't necessarily have to be registered with the Federal government. Keeping that in mind, this will be the largest database of registered trademarks you'll find.

California Business Search If there's a Corporation, Limited Liability Company, or Limited Partnership in California, it's registered here. That means you can use this to see if a business name is in use.

Fictitious Business Search always has a funny ring to it to me, but it's a good resource. Anyone doing business in San Francisco under a name other than their own must register that name with the county. You can access that registry here. This link is for San Francisco, but most counties have a similar database which you can probably find by typing "fictitious business name" and "(your county here)" into Google.

Allmusic Guide If your business is a band, check here and see if anyone's using the name. You may think that you're the only Harmonica Lewinsky out there. And you may be wrong.

D&B Million Dollar Directory
and Reference USA (library card required for both) I know, a business name isn't necessarily a trademark. But it's wise to know who else is using a name and what they're using it for before you decide on a business name. That way you're less likely to unknowingly infringe.

Finally, by all means do a Google search of your business or product name. Do several, and get clever with it. Almost everything that is sold is sold or advertised online, so that's actually a pretty useful way to find product names.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but if you get through all of these steps, the chances of your mark begin unique are pretty good. To perform a very serious search, stop by the library and we'll take a look at state trademarks, business directories, and some product catalogs.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Your post is really good providing good information.. I liked it and enjoyed reading it. Keep sharing such important posts.
trademark application