How to Conduct a Trademark Search

Filing for trademark registration can be expensive, and the process is long: so it pays to conduct your own trademark searches before you file your tradeonlinemarket application. IP Australia, the governing body for trademark law in Australia, has a range of search resources available to you. You should also consider seeking the advice of a trademark attorney before you file your application.

How to Conduct Your Own Trademark Search

Step One: The first step to conducting your own trademark search is to perform a preliminary search of IP Australia’s databases. By performing this informal search, you will unearth results of whether or not your mark is currently being used by a registered or unregistered party. If you attempt to register a mark that is already being used, you may be held liable for trademark infringement, even if the other party has not formally registered their mark. By conducting a preliminary trademark search, you can quickly reveal whether your mark is unique and unused by other parties, and you can also avoid being sued for infringement.

You can perform a basic search through a search engine such as Google. This will reveal whether your mark is widely used, but not whether your mark is eligible for registration.

You should also access IP Australia’s search tools. You can start by using the ATMOSS database. Use this database to discover whether your proposed mark is being used for products or services that are similar to your own: for example, you might want to register your mark as the branding for your own line of hair products. You should search for similar marks on shampoo bottles, hair sprays, hair oils, hair bands, and other related products.

Keep in mind that the results of your initial search cannot tell you whether or not your mark is eligible for registration. The purpose of this initial search is to find out whether or not your mark can be used at all.

Step Two: Once you have conducted your initial search, you can use ATMOSS and IP Australia’s other search tools to perform a comprehensive search of all Australian trademark databases. These searches will allow you to see marks that are not only identical to your own, but are also similar to it.

You can begin your comprehensive search by entering a specific search query into the appropriate ATMOSS fields. You should search for words that are not only identical to those included in your trademark, but also those that are similar.

The aim of this search is to identify marks in use that are similar to your own, and so could raise infringement issues if you go ahead with your trademark application. To find these marks, you need to be creative with your search terms. Include terms that are only a portion of your own trademark; change the order of words within your trademark; alter the spelling and look for synonyms; add quotation marks and search for exact phrases. Using the previous example of hair products, you might wish to trademark Glamour Hair Care Range. In this case, you would search for a number of different phrases: ‘glamour hair’, ‘glamour care’, ‘hair care range’, and so on. You might also vary the spelling: ‘hare’ in place of hair, ‘glama’, ‘glammor’, or ‘glamor’ in place of glamour. You need to be thorough in your search to ensure that you have uncovered every possible case of infringement.

Hire an Trademark Professional to Conduct Your Search

Conducting a trademark search is a complex process for those who are unfamiliar with the process. It is easy to miss a step or use the wrong search terms, thus not uncovering the identical or similar marks that could pose threats of infringement. When you hire a trademark attorney to conduct your search for you, you will receive a professional opinion of whether or not your mark is eligible for registration. A trademark attorney will have further access to additional search resources, and will also be able to interpret the results of a search more accurately.

Similarly, a trademark attorney can offer you legal guidance if you should unearth a number of similar marks to your own. You may not wish to alter your mark: in this case, you will need the advice of an attorney. You cannot navigate the legal complications of trademark infringement alone.

You may be able to conduct an initial trademark search alone, but it is recommended that you seek the advice of a trademark attorney before you begin a comprehensive search, and especially before you file your application. A trademark attorney can draft you application before it is filed in order to give your trademark the best chance of achieving registration, and thus being awarded protection against infringement.

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