When developing a new brand name, the second step (after brainstorming possible ideas) is to do some preliminary searching to see if there are any obviously conflicts in use that could present an infringement and/or registration issue. Of course, it is also recommended that after you do some searching on your own, you consult an attorney for a comprehensive clearance search and analysis. Without performing a clearance search, it is impossible to know whether another company is already using the same name or a confusingly similar one in the marketplace. And only an attorney can help assess whether another name or use is “confusingly similar” or presents a trademark protection problem.
Here are some of my favorite sites for free searching of new names:
- Window1 – a search portal that allows you to search one phrase on a variety of sites, includling Google, Yahoo! and Bing, the first three I always check.
- A9 – search Amazon and the web.
- Hoovers – business listings.
- CIPO – Canada trademark office
- UK trademark office
- International Registration search of Madrid Protocol filings
- CTM-ONLINE – European community trademarks (CTM)
- Whois search – of domain name registrations
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office – see “search” link on right hand column
- State trademark offices list
REMINDER: This list is just a start… consult an experienced attorney for more information about a clearance search.