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frequently asked questions

Markavo’s Free Trademark Search Engine

What a trademark search is, what it isn’t, and why you need a trademark attorney.

What is a trademark search?

A trademark search is a review of public and private databases to help determine if a desired trademark is available. Note that there is more to a trademark search than simply ruling out "exact matches." Keep reading below.

Why do I need a trademark search?

The trademark office will reject any trademark application that is identical or similar to an already registered trademark. Once a trademark application is filed, there are no changes permitted. The trademark office will not refund fees for rejected trademark applications. A trademark search will help you avoid wasting hundreds of dollars in government fees (and months of time) by applying for a trademark that is not available to use or register. 

What is a knock out search?

A “knockout search” identifies identical or nearly identical trademarks that differ slightly from the trademark you search for. The Markavo free trademark search will help you establish if the exact name you want to apply for has been registered already. However, a knockout search does not provide a complete picture of how likely it is your trademark will register. 

A knockout search does not take into consideration “confusingly similar” trademarks in related categories of goods and services. Identifying “confusingly similar” trademarks requires substantial knowledge of trademark case law. A knockout search also does not take into consideration earlier, unregistered uses of a trademark. Finding unregistered users requires a search beyond the database of registered trademarks (see "What is a common law trademark search?" below).  

What is a common law trademark search?

A common law trademark search uses sophisticated and expensive proprietary search software. It includes a search of several public and private third party databases beyond what is used at the trademark office to help find potential earlier, unregistered users of your desired trademark.  It is essential to review databases of company names, domain names, business publications, and social media postings, among other things, to help rule out earlier use by an unregistered party. Even after you register your trademark the owner of an unregistered trademark can petition to cancel your trademark registration. They simply need to prove they used the mark in commerce earlier than you did to win. 

Why do I need a trademark attorney?

How similar is too similar? Trademark law frequently departs from common sense. Spacing between words, intentional misspellings, adding a word or phrase to the front or back of a similar term are things people regularly point to as supporting the idea that their desired trademark is “different enough.” However, it is rarely that simple.  

A trademark attorney, when performing a trademark search, considers the DuPont factors, as well the huge body of case law that is expressed in the thousands of pages of the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure. A carefully crafted search strategy up front can help avoid needing to rebrand in the future or face costly legal fees to defend against trademark infringement allegations. A trademark attorney will help you identify problems that you did not even know you had (because you don’t practice trademark law for a living). 

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