A trademark knockout search seeks out any obvious problems with your trademark. This kind of search is crucial to building your brand because it can tell you whether or not your trademark will run into problems down the road. If you can, do a trademark knockout search before you commit to your brand or trademark.

A trademark knockout search helps avoid major trademark problems.

A trademark knockout search helps avoid major trademark problems.

How Do You Do A Trademark Knockout Search?

A trademark knockout search can be easy, depending upon the trademark. This is why I say to do one before you launch your product or service – you don’t want to build up your brand and then find out a competitor is already using your trademark.

The first stop in doing a trademark knockout search is the trademark database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You can enter your trademark and see if anyone else has registered the same mark. If nobody has, that might be a good indication that your trademark is available. If you see that somebody has registered the mark, there might be ways around it.

In either case, it would be a smart move to speak with an attorney to make sure that you understand the results of your search.

Is A Trademark Knockout Search Enough?

While a trademark knockout search can alert you to obvious problems, it won’t be enough to ensure that your trademark can be used without problems. There might be other, unregistered trademarks that could cause problems with your registration or with using your mark in general. Typically, you will need to do a full trademark search to identify problems.

To address these unregistered trademarks, many businesses hire an attorney to conduct a comprehensive trademark search of state trademark databases and of company name databases to find any unregistered marks that could cause problems. While this involves a little more investment (but not that much more), it does help you to understand potential issues.

Beyond problems with registered marks, there are issues to consider when picking a name that you hope to use as a trademark. The biggest is to make sure that you don’t choose a name that is “descriptive” and can’t get registered on the USPTO Principal Register (it might still be able to be registered on the Supplemental Register, but that involves weaker trademark rights).

In any case, it makes sense to do a trademark knockout search as early as you can, before committing time and money to a trademark that can’t be registered.


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