Companies spend a lot of time and resources to create and implement distinctive brand strategies. But, what happens when the brand names they choose turn out to be owned by other companies. Is that brand name really theirs to use? No. That’s why trademark and brand name selection processes are so important. Smart selection processes enable companies to navigate potential infringement risks. To select the right brand names and trademarks, companies conduct trademark searches.
Trademark searching enables companies to investigate the obtainability of their chosen brand names and trademarks anywhere in the world. It’s the first step in all trademark registration processes. If trademark searching isn’t a part of your company’s brand launch strategy, you run the risk of infringing third-party trademark rights. Infringing third-party trademark rights comes with additional hassles like –
- Other parties raising legal oppositions to the chosen brand names or trademarks.
- Manufacturing processes may get halted.
- Products may need to get recalled.
- All advertising campaigns featuring the trademarks or brand names in question will be cancelled.
Even worse, companies have to get new branding plans developed at short notices. Since all of these consequences have considerable cost implications, the smarter thing for any brand to do is launch searches for registered brand names, symbols, and trademarks that are similar/identical to the brand names, symbols, and trademarks that they intend to use for their companies.
Trademark Searches – Importance in Brand Strategies
Trademarks are words, letters, symbols, or combinations of all three used by brand owners to distinguish their products/services in the market. The average consumer associates products/services bearing specific trademarks with specific brands. If they buy a product/service bearing an identifiable trademark, they expect it to be of a certain quality.
For example, if you purchase a Gucci shirt, you’d expect a high-end piece of clothing. But, if you’re led to believe that the shirt you’re purchasing is made by Gucci (via similar trademarks or brand logos) when in fact, it’s not, the seller is committing various crimes. Firstly, the seller is misguiding his/her customers. Secondly, the seller is using a trademark that belongs to another company to sell his/her products.
Trademarks are vital for branding objectives. They symbolize the amount of goodwill a brand has among consumers. All companies are very strict about the trademarks and logos they use in their brand-building exercises. That’s why when launching new brands, brand owners must identify whether other parties have registered similar/identical trademarks that could prevent them from commercially using them on their products/services.
To do so, they need to carry out trademark searches.
- Brand owners can use the information they obtain in trademark searches to modify and optimize their own branding strategies. After all, no brand owner wants to invest his time or resources into trademarks that are owned by other companies.
- After assessing the trademark search results, brand owners can also shape their trademark applications in a way that enables quicker allowances.
- Trademark searches give brand owners information about similar brand names or trademarks under the International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks (Vienna Classification).
- Brand owners learn about different types of trademarks, including prohibited marks that can’t be registered by private individuals or entities.
- Companies also get to learn about existing brand names or trademarks that are similar to theirs. For example, they can learn about new brand names or trademarks that are phonetically similar to their brand names and trademarks.
International Trademark Searches – The Need for Professional Assistance
The “free” trademark search engines available on the Internet are all plagued by issues like poor search functions and the lack of data integrity. If you’re a large company looking to spend considerable amounts on a new trademark and a new brand strategy, you’ll have to overcome the shortcomings of the low-quality trademark search engines that are created by commercial database companies. Partnering with a professional international trademark search company is the best way of doing so.
- Professional search firms have access to the most secure trademark search databases. The general public can’t access these databases. Professional search firms search across multiple databases, both private and public, to make sure they don’t miss out on any filed trademark application.
- Professional search firms use the best international trademark databases such as the WIPO or the Madrid Monitor to achieve highly reliable trademark search results.
- Since trademark searches feature subjective art, professional search firms use Boolean operators, phonetic searches, and fuzzy searches to find exact matches. These searchers are well-aware of concepts like “families of mark” or “phonetic similarities”. Their all-encompassing searches help their clients file applications that are almost non-deniable.
Simple searching mistakes made by novices could lead to million-dollar problems for corporations. The expenses of conducting professional trademark searches are nothing compared to the exponentially higher expenses that companies face when their trademarks are subjected to lengthy litigation procedures. That’s why smart companies are actively investing in international trademark search companies and protecting their intellectual property rights in the most efficient ways.