David Lilenfeld Blog The intellectual property blog of David Lilenfeld


Reasons to Conduct a Proper Trademark Search

By David Lilenfeld on January 22, 2016

Why do we recommend a trademark clearance search?  I hear that question fairly often.

As trademark attorneys, we are asked that question often.  Here is our answer, at least a summary of our answer.

The United States trademark laws are based upon the “first to use” – in other words, whoever uses the trademark first for particular goods or services, generally speaking, has the best rights to that trademark for those goods or services.

You don’t want to knowingly (this includes the “should have known” standard) infringe on someone’s trademark. This can result in possibly having to pay damages such as: (1) disgorgement of profits; (2) damages caused by the infringement, which can be trebled; (3) costs of bringing the lawsuit; (4) attorney’s fees; and (5) destruction of inventory.

A trademark owner can use your failure to search as a willful attempt to “blind yourself” to readily available information.

Searching prior to applying for registration may help you identify potential obstacles to registration, such as those encountered by a similar trademark. You can even see how the applicant responded to the Office Actions under the TSDR tab on the USPTO website.

A report also shows the types of trademarks which tend to be accepted or rejected by the USPTO and design your trademarks accordingly, thereby optimizing your chances of approval.

While a trademark search report costs a few hundred dollars, it is obviously preferable to spend a small amount of money up front rather than a lot of money later in litigation.

David Lilenfeld


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