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All businesses in the United States are affected by Trademark law.
Your business name, product name/slogan, or mark, may have already been trademarked or used commercially prior to your first use.
Basically, marks that receive protection from other’s use fall within one of the following categories:
1) Federally registered trademarks used throughout the U.S., or
2) State registered trademarks used within their state, or
3) Commercial common law protection: used inside the geographic area where commercial "first use" occurred.
Mark in any of the above categories that are confusingly similar in sound, appearance, or meaning to your marked, and occurred prior to your first use in commerce may force you to “cease and desist” from continued use of you mark and/or pay financial penalties. With over 2,600,000 Trademarks, and over 17,000,000 commercial common law trade or service marks in use, it is very possible that the mark you want to use is barred from use by law, no matter how small a company you are.
A trademark search done prior to investing valuable resources in a name used in commerce may save you a significant amount of money, and legal problems. Bay Area IP makes it inexpensive to help prevent the risk of trademark infringement.
Types of Searches
There are two principal types of trademark searches: words, and images. Word searches locate word marks similar in sight, sound, or meaning in the Trademark Office or other computer database. For images, we search for specific logos or designs, including those with alphanumeric letters.
Bay Area Intellectual Property Group (Bay Area IP) offers comprehensive, professional searching of federal & state trademark registries. We employ a variety of professional search strategies that include word/phrase mutations, logical extensions, grammatical variation, and other techniques to find all potentially similar marks.
We also offer commercial common law, word searches similar to the federal and state searches described above, except that the databases that we search are much more extensive. We search corporate name records, company directories, over 2000 full-text newspapers, Dun & Bradstreet state filings (over 11 million private company records), DBA filings, and a multiplicity of industry-specific databases.
An acronym search is a separate, and addition search to a name search that the acronym is based on. To minimize your costs, it is best to do the name search first, and if no conflicts are found, then proceed to do an acronym search.
Slogan searches proceed similarly to word searches with the exception that common-law searches may not be possible because no slogan-oriented databases are available. A common-law search is useful, however, if the slogan is a business or product name, and/or is expected to be used ubiquitously.
Federal trademark database are searched for conflicting logos; however, no consolidated state or common-law databases are available. Logo searches are generally performed only when the logo/design is a critical part of your business plan. In particular, our logo/design research is recommended for distinctive designs that impart a unique appearance that builds an immediate association only to your company or product. In addition, our logo/design research is also suited for images that are intended for printing onto products, as it is imperative to be sure that your design does not infringe a federally registered trademark.
Bay Area IP provides complete documentation of our search results. Our reports will often be tens of pages long; filled with general information about each mark (e.g., reference info., citations, images, etc.) and a brief explanation of the mark’s relevance with respect to your mark.
You can then take your trademark search report to a Trademark Attorney, who can then determine if you are infringing or if you should apply for trademark protection. Assuming you are diligent in your filings, Federal Trademark registration usually takes between 12 - 14 months, and the time for that of state varies. After about 5 - 6 months after you apply, the PTO will conduct a Federal Trademark search. The PTO does not perform a state trademark search, nor does it perform a commercial common law search. This is one reason why research is usually performed before actually using a trademark.
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