Trade mark availability searching refers to the process of carrying out trade mark searches and then analysing the results in order to assess whether a mark is availabe to use and register in a given territory without infringing the earlier rights of others.
Assessing trade mark availability is good deal more difficult than it may sound. Unlike for example domain names or company names, registered trade marks have a "penumbra of protection" around them. In the UK and EU, they will generally be infringed at least by the use of identical or similar marks on identical or similar goods or services. They may in some circumstances be infringed by use on dissimilar goods and services when they have sufficient reputation. Thus the assessment as to whether or not an earlier mark may present a problem requires a good deal of professional knowledge. Furthermore the register is cluttered with marks with overlapping rights or which may no longer be in use, which present further complications.
Indeed, generally speaking, it can be quite difficult to find a mark which it safe to use in some cluttered fields (e.g. some types of software). It is usually an easier process in industries with few participants.
We carry out trade mark availability searches covering the UK and work with foreign attorneys to provide availability searches in other territories. As well as thorough searches we can also offer various screening searches which are more basic (for example covering only identical or phonetically identical marks) but which are a good deal less expensive than full trade mark availability searches when considering a number of countries.
If trade mark availability searches are to be carried out for a number of territories then if the searching is not urgent then it is sometimes possible to search territories one after another - this is preferable to incurring the cost of instruction five searches at once and getting several negative responses.