You’re not thinking about a trademark search.
You’ve got a GREAT idea. Excellent! Have you given any thought as to what you might call it? The name by which everyone will know this great *thing* you’ve created? In an ideal world, you will have retained the services of an attorney to perform a trademark search prior to choosing a name. Spending a ton of money on merchandise, logo design, and labels only to find out later that someone else beat you to it? Not something that any business owner wants to deal with. Why oh why didn’t you think about a trademark search?
What’s the purpose of a trademark search?
The main purpose of a trademark search is to ensure that you, the brand owner, will not be infringing on any other person or entity’s rights if you use your brand name in connection with your goods or your services. The other purpose of a trademark search is to anticipate, to the extent possible, whether the mark is likely to be accepted by the Trademark Office if you choose to register it.
A thorough search will look for marks similar to yours used in connection with products and services similar to yours. A trademark lawyer will check sources such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Google, state trademark registries, and trade-specific websites. Oftentimes, trademark lawyers have special software that pulls marks that look or sound similar to your trademark. (The Trademark Office looks for marks that are similar to yours in sight and sound, too.) This special software also helps to identify the existing marks that carry the most risk.
Ideally, a search should take place before your launch, but that’s not always the case. Though every scenario varies, depending on the facts, it is usually best to have a trademark search performed so that you don’t find yourself spending more money on something that could have been prevented. In other words, spending a little money now could save you from spending more money — and a big headache — from dealing with attorneys’ fees, a rebrand, a cease-and-desist letter or a trademark infringement lawsuit later.