A domain name is simply the name of your website. This is what is entered in the search bar or using the traditional www’s. For example, we use LawTrades.com as our domain name. Any business that wants activity on the internet wants customers to easily access their websites. Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that the name of your business or the domain name that you want to use are both available online and have not been trademarked by someone else.
Trademarks are valuable words and symbols that businesses use to identify themselves and their products and services. That’s why, many people instantly want to jump to getting a trademark as soon as they come up with a great business name or symbol. Determining whether or not something you plan to use has already been taken, in essence, must be an early step – to save you lots of time in money in costly trademark infringement lawsuits and legal fees.
The same is true for a domain name. You can follow the same steps as you would if you were simply looking at business names that have been previously trademarked.
Why Is the Search Important?
If your planned next steps include applying for trademark registration on a domain name or any other word or symbol, a registered trademark search can increase the chance that your application will be granted. One of the main reasons that an application will be denied is “likelihood of confusion” with an existing trademark. This occurs when two marks are similar and are used for related goods and/or services, such that the public might think that both came from the same source.
Doing a thorough trademark search at the beginning is vital. It is a minimum of hundreds of dollars to file your nonrefundable trademark application. However, it usually costs thousands to brand a business. You do not want to spend those funds and then learn of the similarities.
Where to Begin
A domain name or trademark search begins with the USPTO. A US Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) trademark lookup will help to identify similar and confusing marks.
Start by entering the trademark search through the agency’s TESS system. Since you are concerned with a domain name, you can use the trademark name search. However, if you are ever to search for a design mark instead, like a logo, you would first need to lookup the code in 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.
How Close is Too Close?
The law is not specific here. Unfortunately, there is no exact line of difference that is needed to receive a trademark. If there is a question about the closeness that a domain name or symbol or word must be in order to receive a trademark, it is best to work with a seasoned patent attorney. An attorney can ensure that your application is strong and differentiates your domain name.
LawTrades is here to help. We can assist with your trademark search. Also, an attorney can help with filing your application with the USPTO.
Do you already have a trademark? If so, a skilled intellectual property lawyer can help determine if you are being infringed upon.
We can match you up with a skilled trademark attorney to make sure you and your domain name are protected.