Searching For Trademarks Yourself

Thought of a name for your business? Before settling on a name, it is a good idea to find out if another business is using an identical or similar name. If not, you may want to protect that catchy and unique name by applying for a trademark.

Likelihood of confusion

The Lanham Act is the federal trademark law in the United States. It gives the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) power over federal trademark registration. The USPTO may refuse to register your name if a “likelihood of confusion” exists between your name and a trademark previously used in the United States by another and not abandoned. In other words your business name should be unique and distinct.

Search the USPTO’s trademark database

You can assess the uniqueness of your business name by searching for identical or similar names in your industry. A good starting point for a search is the USPTO’s trademark database, also known as the Trademark Electronic Search System (“TESS”). Enter a search term and submit to see results. The USPTO recommends that you pay attention to any trademark application or registration that is:

• Similar to your trademark
• Used on related products or for related services, and
• Live

Be sure to search for variations of your business name:

• Snoop Dawg
• Snoop Dog
• Snoop Dogg

Search state trademark databases and the internet

The USPTO recommends that you also search other sources such as state trademark databases and the internet.

You can usually, but not always, search online for trademarks registered in a particular state at the website of its secretary of state office. If a state trademark database is unavailable online, you may need to contact the secretary of state or business filing agency by email or phone. The Kentucky Secretary of State maintains a searchable database of trademarks registered in the state.

When doing an internet search, think about the classification of goods or services offered by your business. Where do customers usually buy such goods or services? If your business sells computer-related goods then consider searching the following:

Best Buy

  • Anwar “Joe” Malik, Of Counsel


This post is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from The Winters Law Group LLC, or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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