How to see if a name is trademarked

You can avoid legal trouble and countless headaches by being proactive to ensure you don’t infringe on another company’s trademark.

by Jane Haskins, Esq.
updated May 02, 2022 · 4 min read

Trademarks are valuable words and symbols that businesses use to identify themselves and their products and services.

Before you start using any trademarks in your business, you need to know if a similar trademark has already been registered to someone else.

If it has, you can avoid a lot of trouble and create a stronger brand by selecting a different trademark.

Why a Trademark Lookup Is Important

If you start a business using a trademark that another business has already registered, you won’t be able to register that trademark for your business. More importantly, you risk being sued for trademark infringement.

A trademark infringement claim may mean a lawsuit that will cost tens of thousands of dollars and take months to resolve. Or, to avoid litigation, you may have to change your name (and your signs, packaging, labels, and website) and spend additional money marketing your new identity. Conducting a trademark lookup before you start your business can help you avoid these expensive and time-consuming problems.

If you plan to apply for trademark registration, a registered trademark search can increase the chance that your application will be granted.

One of the main reasons that applications are denied is a “likelihood of confusion” with an existing trademark.

There’s a likelihood of confusion if two marks are similar and are used for related goods and services, such that the public might think that both came from the same source.

A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) trademark lookup will identify similar and confusing marks, giving you a chance to choose a different mark before you spend hundreds of dollars on nonrefundable trademark application fees or thousands of dollars branding your business.

How to Do a Registered Trademark Search

Anyone can search trademarks for free using the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS. While it’s relatively easy to search for direct name matches, trademark searches can grow complicated and you may want help to conduct a more thorough search.

The purpose of your search is to unearth marks that are similar to yours and used on related goods or services.

Marks can be similar without being identical. For example, names may be similar if they look alike or sound alike. The USPTO uses the example of “T.Markey” and “Tee Marquee” to illustrate similar names. When you check trademark status, look for alternate spellings and word endings, as well as exact matches.

It is possible to have identical registered trademarks if the goods and services are unrelated, such as Delta faucets and Delta airlines. Related goods and services are similar or usually sold together, such as clothing and shoes, or coffee and donuts. Therefore, when you find a similar mark, you must also check to see if it has been registered for a related type of goods or services.

Conducting a Trademark Check

To search the USPTO’s trademark database, go to TESS and choose a search option. If you are searching for a name, you can use the trademark name search. If you are searching a design mark, such as a logo, you will first need to look up your design code using the USPTO’s Design Search Code Manual.

A TESS name search allows you to look for plurals. However, the search will not automatically find words that sound like your trademark but are spelled differently. This means that in order to find similar marks, you will need to conduct multiple searches using as many variations on your name as you can come up with. You can search for the exact name, or for any trademark that contains the words in your name.

Each time you search trademarks, review the results for marks that are the same as or similar to yours. Make a list of the similar or identical marks, along with information about the types of goods or services they are registered for.

Then take note of any of the similar marks that are registered for goods or services that are similar to yours. Consult the USPOs online Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual for information about how to describe goods or services and the international trademark class they fall into. This can help you identify what types of goods or services are most closely related to yours.

Expanding Your Search and Getting Help

Searching for exact trademark matches is fairly easy, but uncovering spelling and name variations can be much harder. Design searches also can be challenging.

A professionally conducted search can save time and can give you more complete results than you might get on your own.

If your search uncovers a similar registered trademark, it can be hard to know for sure whether the similarity would defeat a trademark application or potentially lead to a trademark infringement claim. If you are uncertain, consult a trademark lawyer for advice before you invest time and money in trademarking.

And remember that a USPTO trademark search will only uncover registered trademarks. It won’t find trademarks that have state or common law rights that could impact your ability to use your trademark in a particular locality. A more comprehensive trademark check will help you find these marks and ensure that you can use and protect your trademarks with confidence.

How to Find Copyrighted or Trademark Phrases

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Trademarks need not be registered to receive legal protection. The process of trademarking names involves determining the current use of the name, service or goods associated with the use, and geographic location, including international locations, of the person or business using the name you wish to trademark. You can trademark a name when your product or service differs from its current use — and the geographic region you plan to cover is different from the territory used by the current name holder. Researching trademarked names, and names in current use, requires the exploration of a number of outlets and publications, including government and private print and online resources and databases.

Log onto the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) linked to the United States Patent and Trademarks Office website to search the databases for use of the name under trademark protection. Click on the “Search Marks” link on the “Search Trademark Database” page. Click the icon labeled “Basic Word Search (New User)” and then enter the name in the blank labeled “Search Term.” Do not change the default settings listed below the blank. Click on “Submit Query” and wait for the results. Note the “Word Mark,” “Goods and Services,” “Type of Mark,” address of owner and the “Live/Dead Indicator” for the trademarks returned from TESS. This information provides the basic registration for the name.

Search the United States Patent and Trademark Office to review the editions of the “Official Gazette for Trademarks” for newly granted trademarked names. The main page of the USPTO website offers a direct link to the office’s weekly online publication. Click on the link labeled “Manuals, Guides, Official Gazette,” and then the link on the page labeled “Official Gazette (OG).” Open the weekly editions of the publication using the links listed under “Issue” to load copies of the PDF files.

Review the website operated by the secretary of state in the states where you plan to do business or offer services to search for the target name by linking to the individual states via the USPTO website. Click on the “Trademark Process” link on the USPTO main page and then select the link labeled “Trademark Basics.” Scroll to the bottom of the page to the heading “Other Government Resources for Trademark Owners.” Click on the link “State Trademark Links” under that heading for access to the secretary of state offices providing separate trademark searches for individual states. Use the name to locate states granting trademarks matching your search name.

Search for people or businesses online by inserting the name in your browser. If the name includes more than one word, place quotation marks around the multiple words to limit the search to your targeted name.

Perform an online search of phone directories, including business and corporate directories, to track the use of the name in the geographic regions where you plan to offer services or products. The telephone area code helps identify the geographic location of the company or companies currently using the name. Online legal services and attorneys specializing in trademark law typically subscribe to special services to speed the search of multiple phone directories and offer search assistance for a fee.

Search national, regional and local chambers of commerce websites and Better Business Bureau websites to find the trademarked name or companies and individuals using the name as part of a business or service. Most chambers and bureaus have a search feature allowing you to indicate a geographic region to begin your name search.

The legal right to use a public name appears simple, but the process requires concentrated research when another person or business has the rights to a similar name, or a person or company uses the name you wish to trademark without officially registering the trademark. An attorney or online legal service provider can offer assistance with complex trademark searches.

Once you have completed your trademark search and confirmed your target name is available, an online legal service provider or attorney familiar with trademark law can help you navigate the trademark process and register the trademark on your behalf.

How to Obtain a Trademark for a Food Recipe

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Trademark law protects intellectual property, such as business names. Trademarks are an important means of identifying goods produced by a particular company and an essential part of any branding campaign. Many trademarks are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but not all trademarked names are registered. Unregistered trademarks may be protected by the Lanham Act and common law trademark protections.

Look for a trademark symbol accompanying the business name or mark you are inquiring about. Registered trademarks are frequently denoted by a circle with an “R” inside. Unregistered trademarks are commonly denoted by placing a “TM” symbol next to the trademarked item. Not all trademark owners elect to use these symbols, however, so the lack of a symbol does not necessarily mean the item is not trademarked.

Contact the business owner to determine if the item is trademarked. This is often the most effective and easiest way to verify the trademark status of a name or other mark. If it isn’t already trademarked, the business owner can tell you if the company intends to trademark the item in the near future.

Conduct a trademark search with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. You can access the Trademark Electronic Search System online. Use the “Basic Word Mark Search” function to search for business names. You can search based on business name or trademark holder. To conduct an in-person search, visit your local Patent and Deposit Library Office and ask to search the trademark catalogs. An employee can run a search for you; typically, a fee is charged for searches run by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office employees.

An attorney or online legal service provider can assist in trademark searches as well.

If you’re starting a new business, you’ll need to choose a name that’s available for use in your state and that doesn’t violate another business’ trademark.

by Jane Haskins, Esq.
updated May 02, 2022 · 3 min read

Got a great name for your new business?

Before you start ordering signs and business cards, you should make sure your name isn’t already being used by another business. If you choose a name that’s already in use, you’ll have trouble forming a business entity and you may be infringing another company’s trademarks.

Why Should You Check Business Name Availability?

To form a business entity such as a corporation, limited liability company, or nonprofit corporation, you must file formation documents with your state.

Every state’s laws require new business names to be distinguishable from the names of existing business entities in that state.

That means you can’t choose a name that’s identical to another business entity’s name, or that is only different because of an “s” on the end or a different business entity identifier. For example, you probably can’t form a business called “Festive Party Supplies, Inc.” if there is already a “Festive Party Supply, LLC” in your state.

By checking available business names before you file your paperwork, you’ll avoid having your entity formation request denied because of naming problems.

In addition, a more comprehensive business name search can identify additional businesses that may be using the name you’ve chosen and that may have trademark rights in the name. These additional searches help you minimize the chance that another business owner will accuse you of trademark infringement and ask you to stop using the name after you have already spent time and money marketing it.

How to Check if a Business Name is Taken

Every state has a secretary of state or other state agency that’s responsible for business entity filings. In most states, the website of the state business filing agency includes an online entity name check tool. You can use the online tool to search business names and find out whether another business is already using the name you have chosen.

If you find a business with a similar name, it’s a good idea to review your state’s specific business naming requirements to find out if the similarity will prevent you from using the name you want.

Checking DBAs

Just because there isn’t a business entity with the same name in your state doesn’t mean there are no similarly named local businesses. Corporations, LLCs, sole proprietors and partnerships may all operate under fictitious business names, or “DBAs.

Many localities require businesses that operate under a fictitious name to register a business name with the city or county. By checking these DBA registrations, you can find out whether there is another business in your area using the name you want to use.

A business that has registered a DBA may have common law trademark rights in the business name, and it may have established strong local name recognition that could make it harder to market your business.

Trademark Business Name Check

Businesses can obtain nationwide trademark protection by registering a business name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When starting a new business, it’s a good idea to search the USPTO’s online database for trademarked business names that are similar to yours.

A trademarked business name can cause you problems if the name itself is similar to your business name, and if it has been registered as a trademark for a similar type of goods or services. If you conduct a search and are concerned that the name you want to use may violate someone else’s trademark, it’s worth getting advice from a trademark lawyer before you go any further.

General Business Name Availability Searches

A general internet search will help you evaluate whether another business has established a strong internet presence using the business name you’d like to use. A business that’s using your name online may have established common law or state law trademark rights in the name and may have already registered domain names and social networking profiles to match the business name – making it harder for you to market your business with the same name.

“Is my business name taken?” is an important question for new business owners to answer before they form a business entity or spend money on marketing. Taking the time to do a proper name search can save you a lot of hassle, time, and money later.

A brand is a protective wall around your business. Customers and users alike see your services and products through the lens of your brand. This lens allows you to charge a premium price. Before you can do so, you need to ensure that your brand name is actually available and not taken or used by another business. Using the search below you can check if another business is using the name for key social media channels or domain names.

Below you can find more information on key issues around searching, registering and protecting your brand name.

How to find out if a brand is trademarked

Checking if a brand name is protected means usually checking for a trade- or service-mark. Naturally, you should consult the national and international trademark registers for this search. While it’s okay to check only your national register it’s advisable to check more widely. The following links lead you to the official trademark registers in several countries which are closely related or in a trade agreement:

  • US Patent and Trademark Office and Canadian Trademarks Database for North America,
  • European Union Intellectual Property Office for searches of trademarks, word-marks, service marks etc. in the EU and the UK Trademark Search for the United Kingdom,
  • Public Trademark Search in India,
  • Australian Trade Mark Search and Intellectual Property Office for New Zealand.

Once you have completed this search, it pays to check if your desired name is actually available using a domain name search and social media username search (above).

What is the importance of a brand?

As mentioned earlier, a brand is a protective wall around your business. This means your customers are more likely to choose your service or product over a similar service or product of a competitor. Why? Because the brand is giving intrinsic value clues: It starts with the color schema and continues to the font selection on to the design of your logo. All visual components as well as information such as your environmental policy or diversity statements should give a coherent picture of your business. This picture drives trust in you and your business and thereby enables the customer to justify to themselves paying a higher price than for another similar service or product.

What makes a great brand name?

A great brand name is usually summarized by a number of attributes to fulfill:

  1. Meaningful: Your customers connect a desired emotion with your brand. This is usually a positive emotion, as negative emotions don’t lead to actions.
  2. Distinct: Your brand must stand out among other brands, companies and products. It should stick in your customers’ memory.
  3. Simple: Your brand name should be easy to write, speak and spell. Ideally, there should be no obstacles for users to recognize you and your business. When someone says “Google” you know immediately what is referred to.
  4. Short: In most cases, brand names are rather short. Except for Coca-Cola, all of the world’s most valuable brands are only one word and none exceed ten letters.
  5. Available: Your brand should be available for you to use and protect. In plain, it should not already be trademarked or registered as a domain name (see above). If you can’t own it, you can’t use it.
  6. It should be the right “size”: Your brand should be wide enough to cover adjacent markets but not too wide to lose its meaning (see 1).
  7. Ideally you want to be able to visually convey your message. The online giants are great examples here: Wherever you see the blue “f” on white background you know immediately it refers to Facebook. Same goes for Amazon’s orange arrow or Google’s colorful “G”. If you struggle to find the right image, a graphic designer can help. Check Freelancer.com or PeoplePerHour for deals.

With these seven steps you should be able to identify if your brand name is a hit or miss. If you aren’t sure, consult other business owners or reach out to us.

Basics: Should my brand and company name match?

There is no need to match the brand and business name. It’s common that company and brand name aren’t matching. For example, the popular moisturizer brand “Nivea” is owned by a company called “Beiersdorf” or the online payment service “PayPal” is owned by eBay, Inc. (which also operates the online auction platform with the same name). It’s common practice for large operations to run a number of brands. Some companies are an umbrella for hundreds of brands.

Can my domain be slightly different than the brand name?

While it is ideal for your brand name to match the domain name, it doesn’t have to match 100%. Especially at the beginning, many companies opt for a different domain name because their first choice is either blocked or used by someone else. For example, Elon Musk’s company Tesla started with “TeslaMotor.com“ and switched to “Tesla.com” once they were able to acquire the domain name. You can always attempt to find the domain owner and reach out to discuss the issue.

How to protect my brand online

There are multiple approaches to protecting your brand online. It starts with registering the related domain names for your key markets and continues on to trademarking your logo and corporate identity.

Another way to ensure you are staying on top is setting up a Google Alert for your brand name. Whenever Google finds a mention of your brand around the internet you will receive a notification email.

Also, regular public activity is important, as it signals to competitors that you are actively maintaining your “image”. This makes sure people don’t assume you aren’t taking your business seriously.

Summary

Building a brand is a valuable investment. There is no point in starting before you validate your business idea – without revenue you can’t invest in your brand. After validating, get a great business name and get started. Persistence and execution lead to success.

About

Made by Peter Thaleikis with 🍪️ and on the road.

The goal of this name checker is to help indie hackers, side-project makers & website builders, entrepreneurs and startup founders to find the right name for your startup. For more background visit the About-page.

Table of Contents

I was chatting with an artist recently via email recently and he said something that led me to create this post. He had recently checked out the article about the mistakes that most rappers make and decided to share where he was at in his music career.

In one of our emails, he replied: “I do have a job. But I need to trademark my name. I appreciate these tips, they’re helpful.”. I gave him some personal advice in his email and wanted to share some advice that I feel may be helpful.

Before I say what I’m about to say, I’d like to mention that I’m not a lawyer and can’t give you any legal advice. Everything I’m about to say is purely my opinion. When making legal decisions, you need to talk with a lawyer.

Don’t trademark your rap name if you’re not currently making money from music

Now, I have no idea of his financial situation, but for most artist in general, it would be better to hold off on trademarking your name until you start making money from music. The reason I say this is due to the fact that most upcoming artist aren’t making any money from their career and usually have a limited amount of money they can spend on music related things, monthly.

If this is true for you, then you would be better off spending your monthly budget on the creation of your music, branding, and networking related task. It’s more efficient and smarter.

But Darius, what I blow up and someone steals my name?

What if I suddenly get rich and then get sued?

What if I never become successful, because my name isn’t trademarked?

Hold on, hold on. Is it possible for someone to trademark your name before you get to it? Yes. Is it likely? Not for what I’m recommending. You don’t need to trademark your name to build fans, create music, or grow your career.

Is there a risk involved with doing it this way? Yes, but I’m going to show you what you can do to try to minimize that risk, while still working smarter and not harder.

Search your rap name in the trademark database and see if it’s already taken

Before you ever make your first dime in music, you’re going to want to search the United States Patent and Trademark Office to make sure the rap name you’re currently using, is not already trademarked. Most hip hop artist are not familiar with this process so, I’m going to show you how it’s done.

Step 1: Visit the Search Trademark Database

How to see if a name is trademarked

Step 2: Scroll down and click the “Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)” button.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Step 3: Select the Basic Word Mark Search option:

How to see if a name is trademarked

Step 4: Enter your rap name and press the “Submit Query” button

How to see if a name is trademarked

And that’s how you check if your rap name is already trademarked

Comment below and let me know if your rap name was available or if someone had trademarked it already. I’d imagine most names won’t be trademarked, but it’s always safer to check before you put a ton of effort into growing a brand that you’ll be forced to change later down the road, or worse, get sued.

Did I mention that people like to sue for almost anything nowadays?

Want A Secret Tip?

You can add the “TM(™)” symbols after your name in an attempt to prevent someone from trademarking your name without actually trademarking your name. You can’t however use the”R (®)” symbol UNLESS you’ve actually trademarked your name

Nicholas Rubright

The last thing you want is to release your first album only to find that another band or artist has been using the same name as you in another part of the world.

Even worse, if the other artist is gaining traction earlier than you, you’ll have to put in extra work to gain recognition for your music and brand.

Note: This article includes affiliate links where the author may receive a commission.

Additionally, if another artist registers the trademark before you, your music could be subject to takedown notices just for using the trademarked name, even if you own the songs.

Changing your name too late can be costly. Not only will you have to change your name and design a new logo, but if you’ve already released singles, records, and merchandise, you’ll have to re-release these with your new brand name, and pay any fees associated with the redistribution of your music.

While these terms seem interchangeable, they actually cover different types of intellectual property protection.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), trademarks protects “word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.”

However, if you want to do it yourself, or wish to be more informed about the process, here are the steps to trademark a band name.

1. Is your band name taken? Here’s how to check

The first step in trademarking your band name is to check to see if your band name is actually taken – and trademarked.

Don’t skip this. If you try to register a trademark that’s already taken, not only do you not get the trademark, but the filing fees will not be refunded.

To check if your band name is taken, you can quickly search Google your proposed band names to see if any websites or social media profiles of artists show up. Since most social media profiles and pages show up in Google, this can save you from searching each social network individually.

If a band isn’t popular enough and their name is similar to other products, services, activities, etc., they may not show up in the search results for their name yet. To get around this, when using Google to see if your band name is taken, include words like “band” and “music” after the band name.

If your band name is taken, I still recommend checking to see if it’s trademarked. If someone is using your ideal band name and they haven’t trademarked it, you can still get the trademark for that name to use it for your band. Federal trademark protection goes to the person or entity that’s first to register it, not the first to use it. However, another band may still have trademark protection in their local area.

If your band name isn’t taken, awesome! However, you aren’t done yet. You still need to check to see if the band name is trademarked.

Head over to the USPTO website and check for registered or pending trademarks.

If you don’t find anything that resembles your band name, you’re in the clear!

Be sure to check for similar names and misspellings. Choosing a name that’s too close to someone else’s can cause problems.

To avoid costly trademark conflicts before you apply, it’s important that you conduct a proper trademark search. If you aren’t comfortable doing this on your own, you can have an attorney conduct the trademark search for you, or use an online service like LegalZoom for your trademark search.

2. Consider who will own the trademark

It’s important to be prepared for the worst.

What if a band member leaves? Who owns the trademark then?

It may be a good idea to set up your band as a business entity so that you can give ownership of the band name to the company rather than an individual.

General Partnerships (or Sole Proprietorships if you’re a solo musician) are generally the first type of business structure that comes to mind and are formed most easily. The problem with this structure, however, is that if you get into legal trouble, you’re personally liable for any damages.

Corporations act as an individual entity to protect you from personal liability if the band happens to get into any legal trouble, but this structure is fairly expensive to set up and maintain.

A Limited Liability Company LLC is the best business structure choice for musicians for a number of reasons:

  • It can protect you from personal liability in legal disputes.
  • It can provide the simple structure of a partnership with the benefits of a corporation.
  • Band members can easily enter or leave without disrupting the system.
  • Expenses can be more easily written off as business expenses.

You can set up an LLC quickly and relatively inexpensively through LegalZoom .

3. Register your trademark – fill out the form

The USPTO allows you to easily submit your application online using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), which you can access through their website here.

There are three different types of TEAS applications:

  • TEAS Plus
  • TEAS Reduced Fee
  • TEAS Regular

The USPTO has put together this video to explain the differences:

4. Pay the filing fees

Once you’ve filled out the appropriate form, simply pay the required filing fee.

The filing fees are as follows (updated February 2017):

  • TEAS Plus: $225
  • TEAS Reduced Fee: $275
  • TEAS Regular: $400

While it’s possible to go through the trademark process on your own, it is easy to make mistakes. As mentioned above, I highly recommend consulting a music industry attorney or using an online service like LegalZoom for trademark registration to ensure things are done correctly. The filing fees are quite expensive, and you don’t want to have to pay those again.

In addition to trademarking your band name, you may also want to trademark your band or artist logo to protect your whole brand.

How to Search for Available Business Names in California

Picking a name is one of the first steps in starting a business. It’s also one of the most important because it will establish your company’s identity. To ensure your identity is unique you should find out if your name is already taken. This will help avoid brand confusion and potential legal consequences down the road.

Check for Trademarks

Search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System to see if your name is the same as or similar to one already trademarked by a company. Enter your proposed name and browse the results — if there are any — to see if there is a name similar to your desired name.

Warnings

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office warns that just because your results don’t show the business name you searched for, it doesn’t necessarily mean your desired name is not in use. If you plan to trademark your name, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office must perform its own search to determine that the name is available.

Search Public Companies

Search the Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database to see if your desired name is being used by a publicly traded company. You can choose to search for companies beginning with your keyword or, for broader results, ones that simply contain your keyword. You can also narrow your search to the United States, another country, or globally.

Consult Your State Filing Office

If you plan to incorporate your business, you will need to check that your name hasn’t been registered with your state filing office. The procedure for searching the state registry varies by state. Contact your state business authority to find out how to search its particular database. Note that you may be able to use a name even if it’s registered with your state filing office. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it may still be possible to use a registered name if you are selling different goods or services or operating in a different geographic area.

Warnings

Consult with a lawyer specializing in intellectual property law before doing business under your desired name. Only a lawyer can properly advise you on whether or not you are legally free to use your desired business name.

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Congrats! You found an available name and you’re ready to make it yours. Simply add the domain name to your cart and start the checkout process. During checkout, you’ll make some decisions like how many years you’d like to register it for, if you’d like to add site hosting, email, advanced security, auto-renewals, and other features.

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Before applying for a trademark, it is always a good idea to conduct the proper research in order to determine whether or not your desired mark, or one similar to it, is already registered and/or in use. Conducting a trademark search is a very simple process. Below is an overview of the steps that should be taken prior to filing a trademark application. Performing these steps will help ensure that you do not register for an identical or similar trademark that is already in use.

1. CONDUCT A GENERAL SEARCH

Not all trademarks that are currently in use are registered with the United States federal government. Therefore, it is a good idea to conduct a general search for any mark that you would like to use. This general search can be done using any basic search engine, such as www.google.com. The key things to look for include whether your proposed mark, or one similar to it, is actively in use by someone else. More importantly, you want to check whether or not that mark or similar mark is used for goods or services that are similar to the goods or services that you want to use the mark with. This is important because you want to avoid a likelihood of confusion between similar marks used to promote similar goods and/or services.

2. CONDUCT A FEDERAL TRADEMARK SEARCH

After conducting a general search for your mark, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website, www.uspto.gov. This is a reliable and well maintained government website that will allow you to perform limitless searches for the name you want to trademark. You should also run searches for any names that are similar to the name you want to trademark.

Once you have access to the USPTO’s website, click on the trademark tab. Next, click on TESS/ Search Trademark Database. Scroll down the page and click on Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). To conduct a basic search, simply type in the word(s) that you want to trademark. Next, look through the results thoroughly. The result list will provide you with information as to whether the mark you want to use is already in use (“live”) or was previously in use, but is no longer active (“dead”). If the mark is “dead” it is no longer in use and should have no affect on your trademark application. If a mark is “live”, check to see what type of good/services it is connected with. As mentioned earlier, if the mark is already in use for good and services similar to the ones you want to provide, this has the potential to create confusion and could affect your trademark application.

Contact us now. Call us at 480-991-3435.

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“Michael Goltry is the most professional, honest and effective patent attorney whom I ever met in my 40 year professional engineering career. I started to work with him over 20 years ago and plan to work indefinitely.”

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“Mr. Goltry took a provisional patent that we’d filed ourselves, and quickly and professionally turned our innovation into U.S. and foreign applications. His [patent claims] were a thing of beauty, and I was amazed by how deftly he countered the inevitable office actions. His language held up, and the U.S. Patent just issued. He was easy and efficient to work with, and his fees were remarkably reasonable. We’re not planning to go anywhere else, ever.”

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“I applied for a patent through Parsons & Goltry. After being on the docket for 2 years at the USPTO, I received notification that my patent request had been denied. Michael Goltry contacted me immediately to review my options. After I informed him of my decision to move forward, he filed a response to the USPTO. In his response he got the examiner to fully understand the claims in the patent application and the “denied” decision was reversed. I was able to secure and receive a “patent granted” decision. Thank you, Michael Goltry.”

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How to see if a name is trademarked

How to see if a name is trademarked

Choosing a business name can make or break your brand. In growing industries like eCommerce , you need to make sure no other company looks and sounds like you. Pick a name that is distinctive and learn how to trademark a name to stand out from the competition.

A federal trademark will keep others from using anything remotely similar to your business name and help you save time and money in case of trademark infringement. The registration process requires some patience, but we guarantee it’s worth it in the long run.

This article is your 101 guide to trademarking and will help you go through the registration process quickly and with no hassle.

How to Trademark a Name

  • Trademark Symbols
  • How Long Does a Trademark Last?
  • Patent Examples
  • Copyright Examples

What is a Trademark?

How to see if a name is trademarked

How to see if a name is trademarked

A trademark is a type of intellectual property protection used by businesses to make sure their goods and services stand out from other competitors in the same class.

Trademarks typically cover:

    Company names Taglines and slogans Logo and other key visuals A combination of all of the above

Think about the brands you love – their color schemes, phrases, and symbols they use in their communications. These brand elements are most likely registered trademarks.

Now think about what elements are crucial to your brand identity. Which ones can you use to catch the attention of your ideal customers? Most likely, one of them will be your company’s title, so make sure you know how to trademark a name before anyone else grabs it.

Note: A trademark only applies to the type of goods or services you’ve declared in the application.

For example, you’ve trademarked the name Warm and Fluffy for your POD store that sells funny tank tops for dogs . This means that no other eCommerce store can sell tank tops for dogs under the same name Warm and Fluffy™.

Trademark Symbols

Take a look at these symbols. You can use them to claim ownership and represent different stages of your trademark application process.

These symbols show others you’re claiming ownership of an unregistered trademark. Use ™ for goods and ℠ for services.

    ® The “R” inside a circle symbolizes an officially registered trademark. You can use this symbol after the trademark office accepts your application and publishes your trademark in public records.

A good practice is to use ™ or ℠ after you’ve started the application process with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but it’s not mandatory.

How Long Does a Trademark Last?

Trademarks can last forever if you take good care of them. Start using them for commercial and communication purposes once you’ve learned how to trademark a name and other business assets.

To guarantee your trademark protection stays in effect, you’ll have to renew it in routine intervals to show you’re still using it. The patent and trademark office will ask you to provide renewal documents and sample products for proof.

Make sure you stay on top of the renewal dates – if you miss one, the USPTO can cancel your trademark, or your registered mark will automatically expire.

Make It Happen Today!

How Do Trademarks Differ from Patents and Copyrights?

How to see if a name is trademarked

How to see if a name is trademarked

Inventors use patents to protect their ideas, prototypes, products, and methods from being made, used, and sold by other parties. There are three types of patents in the United States – utility, design, and plant.

    A utility patent is the most common, and protects new or improved machines, processes, and products. It lasts for 20 years, with routine renewals in between. A design patent applies to visual designs of new and original products for manufacturing. It requires a baseline of ornamental detail and must be invented by the patent applicants. A plant patent is issued to an innovator who discovered or created a new and unique plant. There are some exemptions, but if you want to invent new plants, this is what you need.

Patent Examples

    New machines Designs Processes Chemicals

Copyright Examples

    Artworks Books and other literary works Songs and musicals Motion pictures

Should I Trademark the Name or Logo of My Business?

You created the perfect logo for your POD business and landed a catchy name you’re proud to put on every billboard. How do you decide which one is more important to protect under trademark law?

The answer – you evaluate which asset holds a stronger position in your brand’s identity, but remember that a weak trademark is always better than no trademark at all.

When learning how to trademark a name and how to trademark a logo, you’ll see a difference between the two in the research stage and filing fees.

If you need to choose between the two, keep in mind that people remember catchy business names more often than logos . You also might decide to change your logo in the future. Evaluate these factors and choose the option that suits you best.

A trademark image search is must when it comes to protecting a brand, securing the trademarks and logos. It is important to ensure right at the beginning that the mark is available for use and we are not infringing on someone else’ intellectual properties before we register our Logo and Trademarks. Here comes the importance of a full logo search or a trademark image search that will help us determine if we are investing right.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Let’s assume we are intending to acquire a Logo to the right which is a “Key with heads of circular, oval or lobed shape”. Assuming the fact that we wish to protect this logo in the United States, “The Trademark Electronic Search System” is the first trademark and logo search database that appears in our mind. The Trademark Electronic Search System, also called as TESS is one of the most preferred trademark search databases we use these days.

In the rest part of this article, we will understand the mechanics of doing a logo search on the U.S.P.T.O database and the journey of a complete trademark image search or logo search starts with navigating the U.S.P.T.O website.

Step 1: Navigate to the U.S.P.T.O website

Navigating to the United States Patent and Trademark Office is the first step which should be done while conducting a logo search.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Step 2: Select the “Trademarks Tab” and “Searching Trademarks Drop-down” menu

Once you are there on the Home Page of U.S.PTO, you can find 4 different tabs placed on the horizontal menu, these are Patents, Trademarks, IP Policy, Learning and Resources. Select the “Trademark” Tab from the horizontal menu and click “SearchingTrademarks” drop-down option.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Step 3: Click on the ‘Trademark Electronic Search System’ title appearing at the bottom

Once we click the above-mentioned drop-down menu, we will land-up onto a page where we can find a text title “Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)” at the bottom, clicking that text title we can enter into the main Trademark Electronic Search System database. The image below will depict the same.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Step 4: Refer to the USPTO’s Design Search Code Manual

This is the fourth and one of the most important steps in the overall logo search process wherein we refer to the USPTO’s “Design Search Code Manual” to determine the search code to which the intended mark belongs.

The USPTO assigns all marks containing design figurative elements a 6-digit numerical code(s) for searching purposes. The Design Search Code Manual indexes the categories, divisions, and sections that make up these codes. For example, a five-pointed star would be coded in category 01 (celestial bodies, natural phenomena, and geographical maps), division 01 (stars, comets) and section 03 (stars with five points), resulting in a complete design code of 01.01.03. Links to the Design Search Code Manual are located in either the Structured or Free Form search options.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Determining the Design Search Code Manual is important when it comes to doing an effective and comprehensive logo search.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Now let’s come to the main part of logo search wherein we will have to define the components of our logo. In this case, we have “Keys with heads of circular, oval or lobed shape” and we need to find the exact class where keys with heads of circular, oval or lobed shape belong to. In the first instance, it seems prudent to search Class 14 (Hardware, tools and ladders; non-motorized agricultural implements; keys and locks). See the below image:

How to see if a name is trademarked

Keys with heads of circular, oval or lobed shape” are coded in category 14, division 11, sections 1 to 9. Section 2 (Keys of some other shape) could be the most relevant for our search.

How to see if a name is trademarked

So, let’s pick 14.11.02 code and search it on the TESS database.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Mind that, here we have searched the “Structured Search Form Option” and the fields that we used was “Design Code”. Below are the results.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Unfortunately, our intended mark is too similar to already existing logos and thus, we will have to abandon the idea.

Assistance from TMReady

Our experienced search professionals conduct the searches manually at the most cost-effective price to help you build a strong brand. Not only do we conduct trademark searches but we also provide monitoring service to keep your brand secure. To know in detail about our Trademark Search Service and Trademark Watch Service , please visit the respective service pages.

Hey everybody, this is Steve, chief paralegal and researcher here at Gerben Law Firm.

Today, we’re going to look at running a trademark search for beer. As a general overview, the government breaks all products and services down into 45 different classes.

So what we’re going to do today is look at the classes that are most applicable for a trademark registration for beer or brewery services.

As a quick disclaimer, trademark law is inherently subjective. When you submit an application to the government, it goes to an examining attorney that could deny your application.

Therefore, if you perform a search and it comes up clear in all the classes that I suggest looking in today, that still doesn’t guarantee that that particular examining attorney won’t find some other reason to reject it.

Okay, now let’s get going. The first place we want to go is the trademark ID manual. As you can see, I’ve all ready entered beer here.

And we’re going to find that the number one class we want to check out is 032, this is quite obviously for beer. The other one though, that we really want to be concerned about is class 033.

If there is a mark for vodka, or rum that’s been registered with a similar name to the trademark you’re looking to register, it will be cause for rejection. These hard liquors are categorized n class 033.

Another class we want to check out, class 043. This is for bar and restaurant services. One thing I want to point out here is class 043 is not the class that restaurant and bar services were always included under. They were once included under class 042.

But for now, let’s just say we trying to name our beer or brewery ‘Cane’. We had a beer or a brewery that had cane in the trademark we wanted to register. So we’d put in ‘cane’, and MI for mark index, and “live” for the live/dead indicator since we only want to see active trademarks.

And here’s what I want to show you: that 042 has restaurant services.

So we click submit, boom, here we go. Now would this mark cause a likelihood of confusion in the marketplace? Probably not.

But it’s important to note that we definitely want to check 042 for restaurant services if you’re looking to register beer or brewery services.

Okay, so those are the most applicable classes. There are definitely other ones you could check out: 021 for beer mugs, and beer jugs. But, 032, 033, and restaurant services.

Now like I always mention, registering a trademark…it’s not rocket science, but expertise comes from experience.

So we always recommend using an attorney. Also at Gerben Law Firm, we use professional grade search software. We have software that goes in and does vowel replacements, and phonetic searches. This trademark search software gives you way more robust trademark search, so that you can be more confident when filing with the USPTO.

So give trademark attorney Josh a call for a free consultation. Josh has worked on over 5,500 trademark matters, he’ll definitely help you out. Thank you guys for watching this video, and check back soon.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Checking to see if a business name is available is free, and is a fairly simple process that can be done online, and finished in about an hour. This is an important step to starting a business that you’ll want to take before committing to a name.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Enter words related to your business to get started.

How to Check Business Name Availability

How to see if a name is trademarked

Learn how to check to see if the name for a business is available with this easy, step-by-step how to guide.

Check DBA registrations.

Determine whether you are a sole proprietor or partnership.

How to see if a name is trademarked

If you are a sole proprietor or partnership and your business name differs from the full, legal name of the business owner, then you are required to file for a Doing Business As (DBA) name. This is a secondary, fictitious name that is different from the company’s legal name, as sole proprietors and partnerships are not registered as corporations, and therefore not required to file entity formation papers.

Check for DBA availability at your Secretary of State website.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Trademark infringement laws still apply to DBAs, however, so if you are a sole proprietor or partnership, you need to check for DBA availability with your Secretary of State.

Do a trademark business name search.

Check the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office.

How to see if a name is trademarked

The U.S. Trademark and Patent Office has a searchable trademark database that allows business owners to see if a trademark has been registered or applied for. Start by searching the business name.

The search will inform you of three things: whether there is a similar trademark if it is used on related products or services, and whether it is currently live. Meeting all three criteria will result in a refusal of your trademark so as to avoid confusion.

Failure to check the trademark office can result in an intellectual property lawsuit, so you want to do this.

States differ in their naming requirement laws, so check the specific requirements that apply to your state.

Think of the different ways your name could be spelled or phrased.

How to see if a name is trademarked

A business name could exist in many forms. Try out different spellings and styles when you search for it, as something similar might come up.

Check the LLC registry.

Go to your state’s LLC registry website.

How to see if a name is trademarked

If you are incorporating as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you should check your state’s LLC registry. Go to your secretary of state’s website and conduct a business name search. This will tell you if there is an LLC registered with that name in your state.

Google it.

Search for the name on Google.

How to see if a name is trademarked

While Googling your business name is no sure-fire way of discerning its availability, it is a useful first step. Businesses often have websites, Facebook accounts, and Twitter profiles using their name, so a quick search will likely tell you if that name is in use.

Bear in mind that results are not conclusive. A website or social media account does not mean that name is registered, nor does a lack of results mean the name is available. Always check the trademark office for confirmation.

What is copyright?

  1. Drawings
  2. Paintings
  3. Photographs
  4. Computer software code
  5. Sculptures and 3d models
  6. Writing
  7. Dance choreography
  8. Sound recordings
  9. Musical compositions, etc.

Copyright Registrations

How to see if a name is trademarked

How to find out if something is copyrighted?

Searching copyright records

It’s not as easy as you’d think, though.

When you search for a title, you’re relying on them having registered it under the title you know it as. For a TV Show or book, that’s not usually a problem. But for photographs, dances, and other things, it may be hard to find.

What about the public domain?

Other dates have different rules, which are a little more complicated than I can cover in this post. I’ll direct you to this awesome chart from Cornell – that should explain it all!

Conclusion

How to see if a name is trademarked

How to see if a name is trademarked

You have found a business name you want to use. Now what? The next thing you need to do is check to make sure no one else is using that name.

Why Check Before Using a Business Name

It might seem obvious, but maybe not.

  • You don’t want to confuse people by opening up Smith’s Market in the same city as a business named “Smith’s Produce Market.”
  • You may want to trademark your business name, and you need to be sure you aren’t infringing on some else’s trademark.
  • Even if you don’t want to trademark the name, you might get sued if you are using someone else’s name, and
  • You will want a domain name, and you might have trouble getting it if someone else with the same name already has it.

How Wide the Search Have to Be?

The size of your market (local? state? national?) will determine how much you want to search. For example, if you want to open a local business using your name in the title (Smith’s Market, for example), you should check within your county and maybe your state. But if you are on the internet, you will probably run into problems with finding a domain name.

It is a good idea to go through all of these searches, because they are all at no cost, and you can then be reasonably sure you won’t be infringing on the name of some other business. There is no guarantee, but at least you have done your due diligence.

Where to Begin Business Name Search

Here are some places to search:

Google the Name

Doing a web search is the place most people start when checking on a business name. While a general search can let you know if there are other similar business names, there are some more detailed searches you should also perform.

Search for the Domain Name

If you want to use your business name as your domain name, be sure to check to be certain no one else is using this domain name.

Search Locally

If you will be doing business locally, search your local phone book or online yellow pages (YellowPages.com, for example)

Search in Your State

You can search YellowPages.com or other online sites for businesses in your state, or you can go to the website of your state’s secretary of state and search the business name register database.

Search by Registering Your Name

Another way to check to see if your business name is being used in your state is to attempt to register your name in your state. Go to the secretary of state website to learn how to register your business name.

Search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

If a business name has been trademarked, you can find it on the USPTO website, in the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).

What’s your band name? Are you sure it’s YOUR band name?

What I mean is, are you sure you own the rights to use that band or artist name when you create music and conduct business? In short, is your band name protected as a trademark or service mark?

Why your band name should be protected by a trademark

1. Avoid duplicate band names

You don’t want to tour and record for years under one band name, only to find out that there’s another band working under the same name in another part of the country (or world).

In that event, one of you is either going to have to change your name entirely or tack on a little extra identifier, “Charlatans UK,” “The All New…”

That’d suck because you’ll have to exert a lot of extra effort to regain the recognition you once had with the old band name. Your band name is your brand name — and if you have to change it, it’s going to cost you money too: repressing discs or vinyl with the new band name, distribution fees associated with replacing your music in stores, etc.

2. Protect your domain name and social profiles

Whichever band wins the trademark dispute is going to have the right to claim or shut down the other band’s web address and social media URLs, handles, etc. You’ve worked too hard building your online presence to have some jokers five states over kill your music career momentum just because they filed the paperwork first.

How to see if someone else is already using the band name you’d like to trademark

Well, Google is always a great place to start. Do any other band names come up in a search? If not, phew! But it doesn’t mean you’re free and clear yet.

Next you’ll want to use the search on the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) website to look for registered trademarks or cases where a trademark application is pending: http://www.uspto.gov/

Be sure to search for similar names and common misspellings too. If you’re still not seeing any competition for your band name, it’s time to file the paperwork to register your trademark.

Having gone through this incredibly confusing and lengthy process myself, I STRONGLY recommend hiring a lawyer to help you file everything correctly the first time around (which I did not, and ended up regretting it).

Do you have any trademark horror stories, either in terms of filing the application or with an actual trademark dispute? Let us know all about it in the comments section below.

All businesses should complete a Delaware Business Name Search before forming a Delaware LLC.

We’ll show you how to check LLC name availability in our Delaware Secretary of State Business Search guide below.

Need help forming an LLC? Read our Best LLC Services review.

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Delaware Entity Search

1. Follow Delaware Naming Guidelines

We recommend making sure your business name meets guidelines before completing your business name search.

Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your Delaware LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Delaware naming requirements and that potential clients can search for easily.

Be sure to follow these naming guidelines:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your Delaware LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your Delaware LLC.

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our LLC Name Generator.

2. Do a Delaware Business Name Search

Before filing your name reservation request, you can use the Delaware Secretary of State Business Entity Search to check the availability of your desired entity name. To perform the most effective search, type in the name you would like to use, excluding identifiers like “LLC”, and leave all other boxes blank. This will return all entities using the same or similar names.

If your business name is several words, you can even search just the first two words to ensure you pull up all possible similar names.

3. Search Available Domain Names

Another important consideration to make when selecting a business name is whether or not your desired web domain name is available. Having a URL that clearly matches your business name is important. This seemingly small step can make a big difference in how prospective customers find your business.

The best way to determine if your desired URL is available is to search for it online using your preferred domain registry, such as GoDaddy.

Find a Domain Now

4. Reserve Your Delaware Business Entity Name

The Delaware Department of State’s Division of Corporations handles all LLC naming questions and requests. Business names can be reserved for 120 days.

To reserve a business name, you must file an application online or by mail. When reserving your name, you will have to pay a filing fee. Checks must be made out to the “Secretary of State.”

After choosing a name for your LLC, take the next step and create a unique logo with our Free Logo Generator.

File Online with the Delaware Division of Corporations

File by Mail

Fee: $75

Mail to:

Delaware Division of Corporations
401 Federal Street – Suite 4
Dover, DE 19901

Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?

We reviewed and ranked the top 5 LLC formation services.
Find out which is best for you.

Other Considerations

While reserving the name for your LLC is straightforward, there are some other things you should think about when choosing the best name for your business. You may want to do a Trademark and Social Media search for your name to see if it’s available for use across the internet. This will help ensure you have full, unrestricted use of your business name.

Trademark Search

Conducting a trademark search of your business name and associated slogans or logos before registering can help prevent costly litigation in the future. Discovering that another entity has trademarked your business name does not automatically disqualify you from using it.

However, it is important to know who is using the name, what industry they operate in, and where they are located to be sure you do not inadvertently infringe upon anyone’s intellectual property rights.

To complete this step:

  • Do a Delaware trademark search to see if your business name or associated slogans, logos, or others are in use by another business in your state.
  • Search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic records to find any federally registered trademarks associated with your business name.

Social Media Search

Just as important, or more so, than finding a domain name that fits your business is ensuring that your business name is available for use across social media platforms. To do this, search for your business name on each major site, using a tool such as Namecheckr to search across all platforms at once.

Bottom Line

Having a name for your business is an important first step for creating a successful Delaware LLC, and one that is incredibly easy to do. Once you have found your preferred entity name using the Delaware Secretary of State Business Entity Search, you’ll want to secure your domain name so that your customers will be able to find your business online.

Reserving your entity name with a Delaware Name Reservation Form will help you stand out from the competition. With your entity name secured, you will be ready to take the next steps to formalize your LLC.

What’s Next?

Now that you have your entity name, it’s time to take the next steps to establish your Delaware LLC. Check out our full guide on how to form an LLC in Delaware, where we can guide you every step of the way.

Possibly – you might be able to trademark a name that’s already in use if your product or service is completely unrelated from the existing, registered version and there’s little to no chance of consumers being confused and thinking it’s the same company.

This information was provided by our founding attorney, Xavier Morales, Esq.

When it comes to trademarking a company name, you may find that your name of choice is already taken. If so, you will need to examine and compare the industries of your respective businesses. If you operate within non-competing industries, you may still be able to trademark your name.

Can Two Companies Have the Same Name?

As is often the case in legal matters, the answer here is “maybe.”

For instance, the name “MY GIRL” is a registered trademark owned by Enertec Enterprises for a line of dolls and accessories. However, there is a second trademark registration for the same name “MY GIRL” that is owned by Acushnet Company for a line of golf putters. The reason that these two different companies could register a trademark for the exact same name is that they operate in totally unrelated industries, and offer totally unrelated products. One company sells dolls, whereas the other company sells golf equipment. (You can find out if there is another person or company using the mark you have in mind by searching thee USPTO database.)

This is, in general, the test for if you will be able to register a mark that’s already in use. Could consumers be confused and think your product is the work of the other company?

Do you want to trademark a name that may already be in use? Get in contact with us today to learn more about your trademarking options.

What About Trademarking People’s Names?

While we’ve covered trademarking company names, you may be wondering about registering your first or last name as a trademark. We’ve covered those in several other articles.

. you would have to establish that consumers in the marketplace now view your mark as a reference to your company, and not as a reference to your last name. So yes, it’s entirely possible to trademark a last name, but if you cannot satisfactorily prove “acquired distinctiveness” to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you will be denied the full protection of federal law for your trademark.

You may trademark a first name if you use it as a brand for your product or services. For example, the name “JESSICA” is trademarked for a line of skin care products. Since trademarks deal with the way that your products and services are presented to your customer, you may choose to utilize your first name as part of your brand identity.

You can trademark your initials so long as you are utilizing them to distinguish your goods and services from another company or individual’s products. Initials served as some of the earliest maker’s marks and survive to this day as a common trademark.

How to see if a name is trademarked

If your record label is a registered business, then your label name is your trade name. According to the Small Business Administration, a trade name is an official name under which a company does business. It also is referred to as a DBA, or “doing business as” name, fictitious name, or assumed name.

Trade Names and Copyrights

That might sound a little scary, but most record labels will not meet the requirements for qualifying for a trademark. A trademark is a branding of a service or product that you can prove to be unique from what other companies are offering. There is very little room to do that as a record label. Unless you’ve invented a new recording technique or invented a different way for pressing physical album copies, your record label isn’t doing anything unique.

However, just because you probably won’t be able to trademark your record label name doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to keep your label branding strong. Obviously, you’ll have a website with a domain name that matches your label name as closely as possible, but it might be worth buying a few domain names that are really close, like the .net or .org versions.

Build a Unique Brand

Have a label logo and a distinct set of catalog numbers for your products. Always promote your label along with your new releases and create social media accounts with your unique logo and personality or voice. What’s more, get your artists to be brand ambassadors who represent the face of your label.

Make building your record label’s identity a priority in case someone else does come along and think up the same name or tries to infringe on your success by choosing a similar name. The more established you are, the less likely someone is going to be successful with the idea of ripping off your name. Anyone serious about establishing their own business will realize that they are much better off building their own label brand.

Applying for a Trademark

In the event that you are going to apply for a trademark for your company logo, understand the proper steps to take. Applications can be filed online relatively quickly at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website.

Before filling out the paperwork, you should search the USPTO’s database to make sure no other companies have already trademarked a similar logo. You also must determine your basis for filing, which means determining if you are seeking to protect property that already is in “use in commerce” or if you are seeking to protect property that you have an “intent to use.” Note that intent is defined as more than just a preliminary idea. It should be market ready. Depending on which basis you choose, you’ll be expected to provide dates for when the protected property first was used.

From there, you should be prepared to fill out the paperwork online, but working with an attorney is highly recommended when going through the process. The USPTO will likely take several months to approve or deny your application.

Legal Advice and Record Labels

Of course, you should seek advice from a legal professional in any business matters where you’re not sure of the law, or if you think someone is trying to steal your intellectual property or ideas. Ideally, your legal expert is familiar with the specifics of the recording industry and is up to date on current rules and regulations.

The most important step I have to always do when researching content for my new designs is to perform the trademark check.

This is step one, which I’m always doing before I even start designing.

In this article, I want to share with you my two favorite tools I’m using to check trademarks for my designs.

And don’t worry, these tools are free and easy to use.

But before I will show you these tools, if you are new to the NechEmpire, then you should subscribe to my YouTube channel, because it is a place where I talk all about the print-on-demand business model and helping people to create this interesting income.

Copyright vs Trademark

As I already mentioned, performing a trademark search on your t-shirt design’s phrase or saying should be step one.

What is Copyright

What is Trademark

A trademark is a type of intellectual property geared toward items that help define a brand, such as company name, logo, or symbols, and that help distinguishes one entity from another.

What is important, is when you find a cool phrase or saying online, and want to know if the saying can be safely used in your designs… What should you do?

Don’t worry, it is quite easy.

Best Trademark Checkers for Print-on-demand

Trademarkia

The first and the most user-friendly website I want to show you is Trademarkia.

Trademarkia is the largest search engine for trademarks on the internet. It allows you to locate trademarks quickly, easily, and for free.

Just type a saying in the search bar and a few seconds, you should see results.

Let’s time Just do it. I know, this is a pretty famous trademark from Nike, but I want to show you how the Trademarkia works.

When the search is completed, you may see a list of possible trademark conflicts. On the left, is the mark, then you see the detailed description for what everything is the trademark registered and on the right side, there is a status.

Trademarkia is using three status labels… registered, famous, and dead.

Then you should be able to use it safely. I personally, don’t use such phrases, I’m still cautious, I’m often afraid the trademark will go live and I will get into trouble.

For the phrase Just do it, you can see that it is not allowed to use it for backpacks, bags, apparel, footwear, headwear, and much more.

So, stay away from such phrases.

Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)

The second tool I’m always using is the Trademark Electronic Search System or TESS. You can access this tool by following the path I put in the description.

On this page, you need to select the option called Basic Word Mark Search (New User).

Let’s use the same phrase again, and type Just do it.

When the search is completed, you may see a list of possible trademark conflicts. You can see, this tool is a little bit complicated to use.

It is not user-friendly like Trademarkia and shows you more than just the simple phrase results.

It gives us combinations of words we have used in our search.

While complicated, the most important for us is the largest column in the table, where are the trademarked words and then the last column, where you can check if the trademark is live or dead.

If you want to see more, just click on the word mark and you will see a detailed description of the trademark.

When I’m doing my research on sayings or phrases that I want to use on my designs, I double-check the trademarks. I’m always playing safe, and I’m using both of these tools.

And I recommend you should too.

Avoid These Copyright Mistakes

If you did not write the song, you cannot use the lyrics in your design.

If you did not take the photograph you cannot use it in your design.

Here Are Some of My Favorite Tools For Print-on-demand

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you build your own print-on-demand business. Here are some tools I use as a designer that I hope you will also find helpful.

Designs: For getting started, I really like Creative Fabrica. They have millions of cheap graphics that can elevate your t-shirt design. If you are not the most skillful designer, then try Placeit or Vexels. These are platforms, where you can find thousands of pre-made t-shirt designs you can easily edit and publish on any print-on-demand platform. I recommend Placeit for beginners and after you get some sales move to Vexels.

Free Designs: I love Canva. I’m using this platform almost every day. With Canva, you can create stunning t-shirt designs, they already have an entire section, where you can make your artwork from scratch or use some pre-made templates and edit them. Canva comes with two main pricing plans: FREE and PRO. And if you are a beginner, then I recommend the free plan, it should be enough for you.

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, NechEmpire may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.

The importance of a brand name in clothing and fashion means that trademark protection is all the more important if you plan to launch a new clothing and fashion company. As your business expands, your name (i.e. your trademark) will be inextricably linked to the design and function of your clothing products – and will often be the primary way that your popularity grows.

Need Professional Assistance?

Gerben Law Firm has registered over 4,500 trademarks since opening our doors in 2008. We work with clients from all 50 states, and, from 30+ countries around the world. Contact us today for a free consultation with a trademark attorney.

You don’t want to run the risk of consumers choosing another clothing product because of confusion between your name and another – and you don’t want other businesses to benefit from the goodwill that you’ve built.

Trademarking a clothing brand can be a complicated process – in addition to our overview of the steps to filing a trademark for clothing, let’s examine some frequently asked questions for a closer look at the matter.

1. What Aspects of my Clothing Brand can I Trademark?

A trademark is intended to give consumers a clear indicator of the source of a product or service. For your clothing brand, that means your company name, logo and slogan. In general, the first trademark you will want to file is the “plain text” of your name (e.g. NIKE without any claim to font, color, etc.). By filing on just your name itself, it gives you the rights in the name regardless of your logo (and ensures your protection is in place even if you change your logo in the future).

After you have put a priority on projecting just your name, you can consider filing for your brand’s logo (which may also include your name, or, just be artwork like the Nike ‘swoosh’] and slogan (e.g. JUST DO IT).

2. Why Should I Trademark my Clothing Brand?

Your brand name and the goodwill of your brand itself are the main identifiers of your company. For a clothing line, it’s especially important to have a distinct and well-protected mark.

Anyone can make a blue dress, for example, but if the blue dress with your brand label on it is the one that everyone wants, it’s important that they aren’t confused into purchasing a different one – mistakenly, or due to obfuscating tactics by a competitor. The protections afforded by a federally registered trademark give you the greatest control and safeguard against any other use of your name.

3. What Kind of Name can I Use for my Clothing Line?

You’ll need to choose a name that isn’t being used by any other company in the clothing industry – and one that also can’t be confused with an existing name. You also need to avoid clothing trademarks that are “merely descriptive” or “generic” – those that describe the form, function, or other inherent aspects of your product.

The United States Patent & Trademark Office doesn’t typically grant trademarks for those types of names since they’re difficult to enforce, easy to confuse, and are reserved for unfettered descriptive use rather than reserved use by one company. In order to ensure that you’re not infringing on an existing name or mark, you need to conduct a comprehensive research process.

A trademark attorney can be particularly useful in this area – they have access to research tools that are more powerful than search engines or public trademark search programs. Remember: infringement doesn’t only mean identical marks, it means ones that can be considered confusingly similar. You don’t want to run the risk of inadvertently infringing on an existing mark because of inadequate research.

4. How Should I use my Clothing Brand Trademark?

How to see if a name is trademarked

Your clothing brand trademark, as a method of identifying the source of your product, needs to be displayed on a tag or attachment of some type to your product – like a price tag, brand label, or hang tag. Any manner in which you’ll use your mark – such as name alone, logo alone, name and logo, or any variations thereof – needs to be included on your application.

The use of your logo as a decorative element on a piece of clothing itself is not enough, on its own, to qualify as a trademark – it’s considered “ornamental” by the USPTO, and will be rejected if you don’t submit another way of identifying your clothing product.

Prior to your trademark’s approval, you should use your mark in conjunction with the small “TM” symbol, serving as notice of your claim to the mark – but indicating that it’s not registered with the USPTO yet. Once your application is approved, you’ll then use the circled “R” symbol to indicate registration. It’s important to use your mark properly to prevent challenges and cancellation after approval.

5. How can I Protect my Clothing Brand Trademark?

A federally registered trademark gives you the greatest amount of protection over your name, providing much greater legal leverage against challenges than an unregistered mark. By registering your mark with the USPTO, you’ve taken the biggest step that you can toward protecting it.

After it’s approved, you should conduct frequent research to ensure that no other business it using your mark, or one similar to it, and also that your brand name isn’t being used to generically describe an item or style of clothing – if a mark falls into generic use, it can be challenged and cancelled. The federal registration can assist you with putting a stop to infringement, but it’s your responsibility to stay aware of any such cases.

Now that you’ve worked so hard to attain and develop your brand name trademark, it’s important to follow up and police it so that your business can continue to grow.

All businesses should complete a Delaware Business Name Search before forming a Delaware LLC.

We’ll show you how to check LLC name availability in our Delaware Secretary of State Business Search guide below.

Need help forming an LLC? Read our Best LLC Services review.

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Delaware Entity Search

1. Follow Delaware Naming Guidelines

We recommend making sure your business name meets guidelines before completing your business name search.

Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your Delaware LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Delaware naming requirements and that potential clients can search for easily.

Be sure to follow these naming guidelines:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your Delaware LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your Delaware LLC.

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our LLC Name Generator.

2. Do a Delaware Business Name Search

Before filing your name reservation request, you can use the Delaware Secretary of State Business Entity Search to check the availability of your desired entity name. To perform the most effective search, type in the name you would like to use, excluding identifiers like “LLC”, and leave all other boxes blank. This will return all entities using the same or similar names.

If your business name is several words, you can even search just the first two words to ensure you pull up all possible similar names.

3. Search Available Domain Names

Another important consideration to make when selecting a business name is whether or not your desired web domain name is available. Having a URL that clearly matches your business name is important. This seemingly small step can make a big difference in how prospective customers find your business.

The best way to determine if your desired URL is available is to search for it online using your preferred domain registry, such as GoDaddy.

Find a Domain Now

4. Reserve Your Delaware Business Entity Name

The Delaware Department of State’s Division of Corporations handles all LLC naming questions and requests. Business names can be reserved for 120 days.

To reserve a business name, you must file an application online or by mail. When reserving your name, you will have to pay a filing fee. Checks must be made out to the “Secretary of State.”

After choosing a name for your LLC, take the next step and create a unique logo with our Free Logo Generator.

File Online with the Delaware Division of Corporations

File by Mail

Fee: $75

Mail to:

Delaware Division of Corporations
401 Federal Street – Suite 4
Dover, DE 19901

Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?

We reviewed and ranked the top 5 LLC formation services.
Find out which is best for you.

Other Considerations

While reserving the name for your LLC is straightforward, there are some other things you should think about when choosing the best name for your business. You may want to do a Trademark and Social Media search for your name to see if it’s available for use across the internet. This will help ensure you have full, unrestricted use of your business name.

Trademark Search

Conducting a trademark search of your business name and associated slogans or logos before registering can help prevent costly litigation in the future. Discovering that another entity has trademarked your business name does not automatically disqualify you from using it.

However, it is important to know who is using the name, what industry they operate in, and where they are located to be sure you do not inadvertently infringe upon anyone’s intellectual property rights.

To complete this step:

  • Do a Delaware trademark search to see if your business name or associated slogans, logos, or others are in use by another business in your state.
  • Search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic records to find any federally registered trademarks associated with your business name.

Social Media Search

Just as important, or more so, than finding a domain name that fits your business is ensuring that your business name is available for use across social media platforms. To do this, search for your business name on each major site, using a tool such as Namecheckr to search across all platforms at once.

Bottom Line

Having a name for your business is an important first step for creating a successful Delaware LLC, and one that is incredibly easy to do. Once you have found your preferred entity name using the Delaware Secretary of State Business Entity Search, you’ll want to secure your domain name so that your customers will be able to find your business online.

Reserving your entity name with a Delaware Name Reservation Form will help you stand out from the competition. With your entity name secured, you will be ready to take the next steps to formalize your LLC.

What’s Next?

Now that you have your entity name, it’s time to take the next steps to establish your Delaware LLC. Check out our full guide on how to form an LLC in Delaware, where we can guide you every step of the way.

It is possible for you to conduct your own search. For an introduction to patent searching for the novice, you may wish to refer to the patent search tutorial at the Richard W. McKinney Engineering Library, the University of Texas at Austin, which is available here (link is external). Although some of the instructions given there may be unique to the Austin library and the focus of this introduction is on the Cassis CD-ROM products, the fundamentals of patent searching remain the same for any location.

Conducting a thorough patent search is difficult, particularly for the novice. Patent searching is a learned skill. The best advice for the novice is to contact the nearest Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) and seek out search experts to help in setting up a search strategy. If you are in the Washington, D.C. area, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides public access to collections of patents, trademarks, and other documents at its search facilities located in Alexandria, Virginia.

You may also wish to consider contacting an attorney specializing in patent law or a patent search firm. The USPTO cannot aid in the selection of an attorney or search firm. Local bar associations and the yellow pages usually have attorney listings broken down by specialties. Search firms are often listed in the yellow page section of telephone directories under the heading “Patent Search Services” or “Patent and Trademark Search Services.”

How to see if a name is trademarked

How to see if a name is trademarked

Copyright vs. Trademark

Trademarks protect words, phrases, symbols, and/or designs that set apart the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is the same thing for services.  

Book Titles Typically Can’t Be Copyrighted

Another Example: Garden of Beasts

In another example, in 2004, Jeffrey Deaver wrote a book titled “Garden of Beasts,” a novel set in Berlin around the time of the 1936 Olympics.

Other Things You Cannot Copyright

  • Names of products or services
  • Names of businesses, organizations, or groups (including the names of performing groups)
  • Pseudonyms of individuals (including pen or stage names)
  • Titles of works
  • Catchwords, catchphrases, mottoes, slogans, or short advertising expressions
  • Listings of ingredients, as in recipes, labels, or formulas. When a recipe or formula is accompanied by an explanation or directions, the text directions may be copyrightable, but the recipe or formula itself remains uncopyrightable.  

An Alternative: Trademarking a Book Title

In another example, Fox News trademarked the term “Fair and Balanced” in 1998, but they can’t stop someone from using that term in a book title, as Al Franken did in his book: “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.”

Writers Digest says, “Trademarks keep others from confusing a well-known work on the bookstore shelves with others. For example, Harry Potter is such a popular, distinguishable character by J.K. Rowling that you’d expect any title with his name in it to be written by her (or, at least, a book approved by her). It’s not only her work, but it’s become her brand.”

Before You Copyright or Trademark, Do a Search

If you want to see if a title has been trademarked, you can use TESS, the online search at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Then you can start the trademark process.

How to see if a name is trademarked

Ciaran Griffin/Lifesize/Getty Images

Can You Copyright a Word?

Trademark

Go to the Trademark Electronic Search System at the official website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Use the “Basic Word Mark Search (New User)” search. Enter the phrase into the “Search Term” field; leave the default search options set for a basic search. The default search options are “Combined Word Mark” with “All Search Terms (AND).” These settings will return results containing all the words in the phrase and search word variations. View results to see trademarked phrases.

Widen the search and search again if you’re not sure of the exact phrase. Change the “Results Must Contain” search option to “Any Search Terms (OR).” This will return results that contain parts of the phrase you are searching for.

Click the “Logout” button beneath the search fields when finished.

Copyright

Check the results for the phrase you want. Results are shown by the title of the works that contain the phrase, and are arranged alphabetically.

Search again using the “Keyword” search if the exact phrase you are looking for doesn’t appear in the results. Use some distinctive words from the phrase. For example, if searching, “The brown shoehorn,” omit the words “the” and “brown.” “Shoehorn” is the less common word. Put a “+” in front of each search word to narrow the search.

Warnings