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5 Common Questions about Trademark Searches

The time to start looking into a trademark search is when you are still working on your business plan. This means by the time you are ready to launch your brand or company, you can have confidence that the name you want to use is available. You won’t hit any curveballs that delay the next step – creating your website (domain name), logos, or branding.

Understanding trademark searches will empower you to get going with your business in confidence. So you can see how this important step can save you time, inconvenience, and money in the long term. Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

  1. What are the risks of not doing a trademark search?

Ensuring that another entity is not currently using the same or confusingly similar trademark you want to use and register will save you time and money. Before starting investing money in promotional material, design and signage, you want to make sure that you won’t run the risk of having to rebrand if it’s discovered you are infringing the rights of someone else who has registered a trademark.

  1. Do you legally have to register a trademark?

It is not a legal requirement to use a brand or a business name. However, it is highly recommended. Not only does it give you the green light to go ahead and launch your brand or business knowing you will not infringe on existing trademarks, but you will also be putting the legalities in place to protect your own.

  1. How do you conduct trademark searches?

A trademark attorney can be hired to conduct the searches on your behalf. The process shouldn’t take more than a few days. They will give you the information about whether the trademark can legally be registered and their professional opinion on if there are any risks of it conflicting with any existing registered trademarks or common law/unregistered trademarks. Individuals can also conduct their own searches at the ATMOS database, which is available online. This may highlight any obvious concerns or issues that crop up. Still, a trademark attorney has the experience and knowledge to conduct a more detailed search that will highlight similar-looking and similar-sounding words that could cause you issues later.

  1. What does a trademark search reveal?

A full availability search will reveal both registered and unregistered marks in Australia within the market your brand or business operates. It will show if the mark you want to register is identical or similar to that of another company.  With this information, you will be able to confirm if your proposed mark or logo is available for registration and trademark protection. You will also learn if your proposal will infringe on a trademark holder’s rights on the database.

  1. What types of searches are there?

We have already covered ATMOSS (Australian Trademarks Online Search System), which is a free search tool that helps you search for similar/identical trademarks to your own. You will get the preliminary information you need to assess if there is a conflict and give you results covering words, images, goods and services, and the trademark owner’s details. A full search conducted by a trademarks attorney may incorporate:

  • Classification searches to help you determine which class or classes your specific offering will be filed under.
  • The Australian Electoral Office. If your trademark features a surname, this may be searched to determine if the surname is common in Australia (IP Australia will find a surname common and therefore difficult to register if it is on the electoral role more than 750 times).
  • A business names search gives information on the details on business name availability and will be used in a full search to see if traders are using similar names without registering a trademark
  • Marketplace searches, again, to ensure others are not using similar names without a trademark registration.

    Read Also – Understanding Passing-off in Trademark

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by Abhishek Sharma