It’s a new year. People start new businesses that need names. Existing businesses want new names. They have heard trademarks are important. They have seen the ®, so they call for my advice. Probably one of my most frequent questions is: can I trademark my name? I’ve searched the Patent & Trademark Office myself and found nothing. What can you tell me?
It is a simple question, and you would think it has a simple answer. However, the reality is that there is more to the question than searching for the identical name. I hear the disappointment in your voice when I tell you I cannot tell you over the phone. Let’s do a search and find out for sure.
My job is to protect your business. When you ask me if you can trademark a name or logo, I hear two questions. One, how likely is it that I’ll be able to get that ®? Two, if I use this name, is someone going to sue me for trademark infringement?
A comprehensive trademark search will answer those questions. My search team and I search the Patent & Trademark Office, and well beyond. We search the secretary of state business registries of all 50 states, domain name registries, and social media. We search the Internet, images as well as text. Then I tell you what it means. You would not try to diagnose your illness after reading your blood test results. But your doctor, with years of experience, can. Think of me as a primary care doctor for your brand. How strong is your trademark? Are you going to get a trademark? Are you going to get sued?
I have been able to prevent at least two clients from being sued. They each invested in a trademark search. In both cases, we identified another local business using the same or similar mark, for the same or similar goods and services. In one case, the prior business did NOT register his mark with the PTO. If my client had relied on a typical exact word search, she would have not found the other business. She would have continued spending time, money and energy marketing herself. She would never have known that less than 20 miles away was someone else calling himself the same thing. Instead, she called the other business owner, identified herself and talked to him about the name. 20 minutes later, they agreed on a slightly different name she could use, confirmed it in writing, then went back to running their businesses. No angry letters from lawyers, no threat of a lawsuit, and no additional money spent.
I realize I have a lot of competition, from law firms, legal service providers and folks who want to do it themselves. I’m all about transparency, so I’ll come right out and tell you that my price for a comprehensive trademark search with opinion starts at $1200. You read that right–four digits. This covers the cost of the search itself, plus my time in telling you what it means. Not every client needs a trademark search. I never require it, and I will never give you the hard sell. But it may save your business in the long run. Isn’t it worth the peace of mind?
Related content: Do I Need a Patent?