Trade Mark availability searching

Trade Mark availability searching

Trade mark availability searching refers to the process of conducting trade mark searches, then analysing the results of those searches in order to assess whether a mark is available to use and register in a given territory without infringing the rights of others.

Assessing trade mark availability is more difficult than it may sound. Unlike, for example, domain names or company names, registered trade marks have a 'penumbra of protection' around them. What this means in practice is that the protection conferred by the registration is broader than just the precise trade mark, goods and / or services that are specified in the registration. In the UK and EU, a trade mark will be infringed by the use of an identical mark on identical goods or services, but also on similar marks on similar goods or services. A registered trade mark may even, in some circumstances, be infringed by the use of an identical or similar mark on goods or services that are completely different, provided the registered mark has sufficient reputation. Thus the assessment as to whether or not an earlier mark may present a problem is rarely straightforward, as what constitutes similarity - from the perspective of both the trade mark, and of the goods or services - can be difficult to assess. Additonal complications may arise in the form of old trade marks, which may no longer be in use and are therefore subject to cancellation.

Indeed, it can be difficult to find a trade mark which is safe to use in some cluttered fields (e.g. some types of software and, more recently, craft beers). Those operating in industries with few participants generally have an easier time.

We carry out trade mark availability searches covering the UK, and we work with our worldwide network of associates to provide availability searches in other territories. As well as thorough clearance searches, we also offer different levels of screening search: these can be very basic - for example, limited to identical trade marks - and are correspondingly cheaper. Such screening searches are most useful during the early stages of brand development, when shortlists of potential trade marks need to be evaulated quickly and inexpensively.

Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions about trade mark searches.

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