Can I trademark my business name or logo?
Before you can apply for your trademark, you need to make sure it’s available. This is done by searching for your mark and other marks like it in the Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS.
Steps for searching TESS
1. Go to Trademark Search.
2. Select a search option.
a. Basic Word Mark: Choose this option if you want to trademark your business or product name only. You cannot use this option to search design marks like logos.
b. Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured): You can use this option to search word and/or design marks like logos. To use this option, you must first use the Design Search Code Manual to look up the relevant Design Codes.
c. Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form)
With this option, you can create word and/or design searches using Boolean logic and multiple search fields. To use this option, you must first use the Design Search Code Manual to look up the relevant Design Codes.
There are also additional search options. For example, you can click on Browse Dictionary (Browse Dictionary), which browses all fields in the database unless you limit to a particular field. Results are returned in a dictionary-style (alphabetic) format. Another option is to Search OG Publication Date or Registration Date (Search OG), which searches the Official Gazette for trademarks that have been published or registered on a selected date.
Enter your search term and click on submit query. TESS is used to find out if your trademark has already been applied for or registered. You want to know any other trademarks that are (1) similar to yours and (2) currently being used in (3) related goods/services. If just one of these requirements is not met, it’s possible that you can apply to have your trademark registered.
1. The trademark must be similar.
2. The trademark must be currently in use.
3. The trademark must be used in related goods/services.
What if there is a same or a similar trademark?
There’s a common misconception that a name can only be trademarked by one business or person. That isn’t exactly the case. It’s more accurate to look at the trademark of a name/logo within a certain class of goods/services. Often, two businesses have the same name, but they are in completely different classes of goods/services. Where it becomes more confusing is when there is some overlap in the class of goods/services.
Also keep in mind that you can’t just change something small about a trademarked name or logo and then use it to take advantage of that brand’s notoriety. That applies whether it’s a similar class of goods/services, but can also apply when there is no overlap in class of goods/services if it’s being used to ride the coattails of the other trademark.
Once you determine that your mark is available, it’s time to file your trademark.
Up Next: How to File a Trademark Application