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Trademarks: Searching for Trademarks

A guide to finding information on trademarks such as fees, forms, terms and searching techniques for both U.S. and International trademarks.

What to Look for in a Trademark Search

When selecting a name for a business, product or service, it is necessary to find one that the consumer can clearly identify and distinguish from other businesses, products or services. The searcher should look for marks/names that may cause confusion, including marks/names that:

  • match exactly,
  • partially match (especially if from the same root word),
  • are phonetically similar (spelled differently but pronounced the same or similar; homonyms),
  • are foreign language equivalents,
  • have the same words in different order,
  • have similar connotation (synonyms),  
  • are the full (spelled out) meaning of abbreviations and acronyms, or
  • have similar images/designs.  

If exact or similar marks are found, consider the type of goods or services that these marks/names represent.  Each mark is assigned to one or more "classifications" that group marks into categories of similar goods or services; for example, the notation "IC 28" indicates the product is in international class 28 which is for games and playthings.  Exact or similar marks in the same class as your product or service have a greater potential for confusion on the part of the consumer and therefore a greater chance for litigation or at least, opposition to registration.  Even if your mark is in a different class than other similar marks, beware of those similar marks if they are well-known or their owners are known to be litigious.  If there is a name conflict - seek legal counsel.

Internationally used classifications for trademarks include:

The U.S. now uses the International Classification of Goods & Services, see:

The state of Arizona uses the older U.S. classification system that is very similar, but not identical, to the International Classification, see:

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