Once you have selected a good trademark, it is important to conduct a trademark search to ensure no one has prior trademark rights to the desired mark. The best practice is to conduct both a “Knock Out search” followed by a full trademark search before you start associating your products or services with the using the trademark.
A Knock Out search is a preliminary search of the United States Patent and Trademark office’s trademark database and the Internet to see if your desired mark is already in use by another party. A full trademark search covers all federal and state trademark registrations, domain names, business names, and common law use. The full search covers many additional sources that are not included in the preliminary search. For example, each state has its own trademark registrar that is independent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office’s database.
The investment in clearing your mark is minimal compared to the costs of promoting a mark that later gets opposed, refused, or cancelled by another party holding prior trademark rights. If you do not adequately protect yourself, you may find yourself in a situation where you must rebrand your products, services, or even your company. Moreover, adequately clearing a trademark is the best way to avoid costly litigation for trademark infringement.