The Benefits of Conducting a Trademark Search Prior to Starting a Business
Whether you are an individual who invented a new gadget and came up with a name for it, a start-up looking to launch a new service and protect your company name, or an established business releasing a new product line, serious consideration should be given to have a Trademark Search performed to identify any potential conflicts that may derail your project before it even gets off the ground.
Ideally, conducting a Trademark Search prior to launching a service or product will allow for greater flexibility in modifying your proposed Trademark, whether it be simply a word mark, a logo or a combination of both, depending on the results of the search. If a conflicting registration or prior-filed application is identified that would result in either your Trademark Application being rejected by the USPTO or would leave you vulnerable to receiving a cease and desist letter from a rightful owner of the Trademark, the financial costs for rebranding will be significantly less prior to product launch, rather than having to rebrand afterwards.
One strategy to adopt during the creative development process, is to generate a list of four to five possible marks that you would be comfortable using for the new product, service, or company name. Utilizing this approach allows you the ability to have other marks to draw upon should your primary or favored mark be unavailable following the results of the Trademark Search. Additionally, this method saves valuable time by avoiding a scenario where you have to go back to the drawing board to come up with an alternative mark, thus delaying securing a registration and ultimately delaying launching the product or service.
Furthermore, having a Trademark Search performed is an inexpensive route to avoid potential litigation headaches associated with blindly using a name or logo without investigating whether the mark is already in use. Imagine a situation where you are a start-up company who launched six months ago and offers a unique service using a mark previously registered and owned by a fairly large entity. As time goes on, and your company grows and you begin to gain traction with your service, you start to receive some attention both on-line and off-line, and it is at this time that you have appeared on the radar screen of the larger entity and owner of the mark. At this point you will most likely receive a cease and desist letter. This will likely lead to the need to negotiate a settlement agreement, and ultimately change the name of your service, resulting in unexpected costs and delays in continuing to grow your business.
In the end, branding is an important and essential element of any business of any size, and given the time and resources you will devote to launching a new product, ensuring that the name associated with the product is available and free of conflict is a key piece in business planning. Simply looking at the cost-benefit of conducting a Trademark Search prior to launch, it is a worthwhile investment and one that will allow you to focus on business growth instead of being involved in a Trademark dispute.