In order to detect any existing trademarks that are confusingly similar to the one being evaluated for registration, trademark searches are a critical part of the trademark registration process. Before submitting your application for registration, conducting a trademark search will help avoid potential legal challenges and pricey lawsuits that can take place if a competing trademark is already in use. Moreover, free trademark searches help to confirm that the proposed trademark is distinctive, original, and not already being used by another person or company. In order to safeguard a company’s brand identification and prevent future legal issues, completing a trademark search is a crucial first step.
What is Trademark Search?
A trademark search is a procedure to determine if a specific trademark has already been used or registered by another company or person. To prevent possible conflicts with already-existing trademarks, the main goal of a trademark search is to ascertain whether a proposed trademark is eligible for use or registration. To find trademarks that are identical to or similar to the proposed trademark, a thorough trademark search entails scanning through numerous databases and records. Among these databases and records are tracing directories, online search engines, and local, national, and international trademark registers:
A trademark search is an essential step in the trademark registration process, as it helps businesses and individuals to avoid legal disputes and potential litigation that can arise from trademark infringement.
Trademark Search Database
In India, the Controller General of Patent Designs and Trademarks oversee the registration and control of trademarks. Both professionals and non-professionals have access to an online trademark search database to conduct searches. The database includes information on all trademark applications submitted to the registrar, such as registered, applied, objected, and expired trademarks. Conducting a trademark search can provide valuable insights related to the trademark in question.
Categories of Trademark Search in India
Following are the categories of Trademark Search in India:
- Word Mark Search
The IP India Public Search can be used to conduct a word mark search to see if a specific word or phrase has already been registered in India. It entails typing the specific word or phrase into the search bar and looking through the results to see if any trademark already in existence matches the search term. This type of search is essential for individuals or companies considering registering a trademark to ensure that their chosen mark is not already in use and to avoid potential legal issues. Conducting a wordmark search is a crucial step in the trademark registration process and can help protect the rights of trademark owners.
- Phonetic Search
A Phonetic search in IP India Public Search allows users to find trademarks that sound similar to the one they are searching for, even if the spelling is different. This search method uses phonetics, the study of the sounds of human speech, to identify trademarks that have similar pronunciations. This type of search is advantageous when the exact spelling of a trademark is unknown or when a trademark has been spelt differently in different countries. By using phonetics, users can broaden their search and uncover trademarks that they might have missed with a traditional search.
- Vienna Code Search
A Vienna code search in IP India Public Search is a way to search for trademark images and logos by their visual characteristics. The Vienna Classification is an international system of categorizing these images based on their design elements. The classification system assigns a code to each design element, which allows for easier searching and categorization of trademarks. With a Vienna code search, users can input a specific code or combination of codes to find trademarks that match their desired visual characteristics. This is particularly useful for trademark attorneys.
With a Vienna code search, users can input a specific code or combination of codes to find trademarks that match their desired visual characteristics. This is particularly useful for trademark attorneys, examiners, and applicants who need to conduct comprehensive searches of existing trademarks before filing their own.
Benefits of Free Trademark Search
Doing a free trademark search before registering a trademark can give various benefits. The chance of violating the rights of another party is decreased since it helps in determining whether a trademark that is similar or identical to another one which is already in use. This helps in avoiding the potentially expensive legal challenges that result from trademark infringement.
Also, carrying out a thorough free trademark search can guarantee that the proposed trademark is unique, distinctive and eligible for registration. It helps the company or individual to avoid having their trademark registration application rejected and having to rebrand, which can be time-consuming and expensive. A trademark can also help in discovering potential barriers to the use of the trademark in a specific sector or region, enabling companies to take the necessary precautions to avoid potential legal issues.
How to Conduct a Free Trademark Search?
Following is the process to conduct a free Trademark Search:
- To conduct a free trademark search in India, you will have to visit the IP India Public Search website at https://ipindiaonline.gov.in/tmrpublicsearch/frmmain.aspx.
- A window like the one shown below will appear before you.
- You will have to choose a search type first. There are three types of searches that can be done – wordmark search, phonetic search, and Vienna code.
- Here you can search for your trademark by selecting the wordmark option, which is at the top of the page in the middle.
- Enter the wordmark you want to look up in the database of trademarks. Using the three different options, which are – “Start with”. “Contains” and “Match with”, the trademark database can check with the search engine.
- After choosing the search type and typing the word that is to be searched, the applicable trademark class must be entered. There are a total of forty-five classes in trademark, which correspond to different goods and services. Only the class which is relevant to a trademark or trademark application has to be entered.
- The final step is to click on the search button. The list of trademark application which is already registered, are in the process of registration or are removed or abandoned will appear if a trademark identical or similar to the one which is searched are found. You can also view the details of the trademark along with the information of the trademark owner when you click on the show details option.
- A simple search will turn up several matches, and comprehending the trademark search statuses is vital for understanding the implications.
- If there is no similar or identical trademark found, then “no matches found” will be shown on the screen.
In conclusion, conducting a free trademark search is an essential first step in safeguarding a company’s brand identification and averting potential legal issues. It assists companies in ensuring that their trademarks are distinctive, authentic, and qualified for registration. Failure to undertake a trademark search can lead to expensive legal issues, the denial of the trademark registration application, harm to the identity and reputation of the company, and customer misunderstanding. Conducting a free trademark search has become easier and more accessible with the availability of online search engines and databases such as the IP India Public Search and WIPO.