Why is a Trademark Search Important?
Before you can continue down the road to registering a trademark, you need to be certain that someone else does not already have it registered. Some people try to register their own trademark, only to run into opposition from someone else who claims that they already have rights to it. That kicks off a formal process that puts your application at risk and adds far more time to the process.
A trademark is the right to use a word, series of words, mark, or design in conjunction with a product. For many brands, this becomes their identity and how they are known to the general public. Companies are very protective of their intellectual property. It is a large part of the value of their business.
Know What You Are Facing Before You Apply for a Trademark
While trademark registration is not a hard-and-fast requirement, it is usually advisable. It helps formalize the protection of your brand. When you register a trademark, it is proof that you own it, and it prevents misuse. However, getting your trademark application approved is not always automatic. Others who have a stake in your application will get their say during the process. Not only will the examiner pay close attention to your application, but it will be put out for public comment at some point.
Once you begin the process of registering a trademark, you are committing to incur significant expenses. These could include:
- Fees to apply for trademark registration
- Attorney’s charges for the trademark registration process
- Continued expenses related to your business or campaign
Simply stated, the costs can add up quickly. About the worst possible outcome is to make it almost all the way to trademark registration and receive a notice that someone else has filed an opposition to your request as is their right. By this time, you have already gone to the time and expense to continue the process, only to learn that you may not be able to register your trademark after all. This could have been avoided with an extensive trademark search.
You Should Even Know About Similar Trademarks
From your standpoint, it is good to know what else is out there that is similar to your proposed trademark. You could learn about trademarks that could potentially be confused with yours. This could also hurt your own business because it interferes with efforts to build your brand. Even if you somehow escape the opposition period, it does not help you when your trademark is easily confused with another one out there.
The key is to not only search for your exact trademark but also to broaden your search to ones that are similar to yours. This means that you should perform an extensive and exhaustive search. The importance is also the breadth of your search. This is something that could be difficult to do on your own without advanced tools to run the trademark search. An Ontario trademark registration lawyer would have the tools at their disposal to run a more extensive search. This could save you a headache and money in the future.
Your search must also go beyond the trademark registry. It is possible for someone else to acquire trademark rights even though they never registered one. There is such a thing as a “common law” trademark that is obtained by use but without registration. You should search the internet and social media for other uses that are identical to or similar to your proposed trademark because this will not show up in a traditional search. Even if you could succeed in registering a trademark, it may not help you to have a brand identity that is similar to another one because that could harm your potential profits.
Invest Early to Avoid Problems Later
The more you intend to invest in your product or campaign, the more depth you should go to in your trademark search. You should consult with a trademark attorney early in the process to understand how far you must go in your trademark search. While this costs you money, it could potentially save you much more later down the road.
It is better to have this conversation and start the search early in the development process before you spend too much on your idea. A trademark search is relatively inexpensive, and it is a small price to pay compared to the possible trouble that you could have later. You could spend time on it yourself, never really knowing whether you have done enough. Alternatively, you could speak to a Toronto IP lawyer and invest early. The trademark search will add time to the registration process, but it is well worth it. If you do not find that someone else has a similar trademark, the chances are that the examiners or someone else will.