Let's be honest, everyone finds themselves in situations where they are tempted to cut corners.
And sometimes that can actually be a good thing, Responsible for preparing 100 gift baskets that must be tied with 100 ribbons in an hour? Throw out the extravagant example decor in favor of a simpler bow-tie you can pull off.
Want to grow your company's social media presence on Twitter? Spend an hour uploading tweets into an automated system. Want a consistently clean floor without ever having to vacuum? Get a Roomba.
Unfortunately, cutting corners when it comes to trademark clearance search can have disastrous results:
- Investing thousands in brand name collateral before being opposed during the opposition process.
- Having to return to the drawing board to brainstorm another name everyone can agree upon.
- Paying astronomical litigation fees ($100,000+) to defend rightful ownership and usage.
Choosing The Right Brand Name
Each year, advertising agencies spend hundreds of hours developing original brand names on behalf of clients. Late-night brainstorm sessions, focus groups, Excel spreadsheets, and pizza deliveries are all to be expected. Which begs the question: Is it really that hard to name something?
Assuming you are naming a product, service, or business, then yes. Branding experts understand that the best names become a part of consumer vocabularies and are synonymous with the items they represent.
And, perhaps, no one does that better than a boutique firm called Lexicon. They have generated 15 billion-dollar brand names including BlackBerry, Dasani, Febreze, OnStar, Pentium, Scion and Swiffer. Their creative process can even involve coordinating with linguistic experts to brainstorm metaphor, sound, and word associations.
Once an agency like Lexicon has identified its top 2-3 candidates, it's time to conduct a trademark clearance search to see what is available. Typically, legacy service providers charge thousands of dollars per name to produce man-made reports. Assuming one or two candidates comes back "high risk," things can quickly get very expensive (more on that later).
Considering all the work that goes into selecting brand names, a thorough trademark clearance search is imperative. Unfortunately, results from government databases rarely offer enough insight to complete a comprehensive trademark candidate search.
In order to minimize risk, you'll need to conduct a context-driven search that provides a bird's eye view of the marketplace. Using a single platform, or a combination of platforms, your trademark clearance search should analyze the following:
- Public Domain Trademark Databases
- Common Law Trademark Names
- Classes and Product Categories
- Phonetic and Visual Similarities
- Internet Domain Registration
- Geographic Usage
- Word Meaning
As you may expect, evaluating each of the aforementioned factors can yield hundreds of pages of search results. Again, this is why working with legacy service providers isn't cheap and could potentially come with costly oversights. In order to truly minimize risk, you'll need a trademark search solution that can look beyond exact matches, use unlimited search, and rank your results.
1 . Look Beyond Exact Matches
Your trademark clearance search should include historical trademark cases within certain jurisdictions, a mark holder's history of litigation, similarity of distribution channels, and similarities of actual products. This will decrease the likelihood of confusion and increase the likelihood of successful registration.
2 . Use Unlimited Search
As previously mentioned, conducting search clearances via legacy service providers can be expensive. If your preferred candidates are analyzed as "high-risk," you've essentially doubled your trademark search costs. Your best option for securing a low-risk brand name that you and your colleagues love is using a platform that provides unlimited search options for ONE affordable cost.
3. Rank Your Results
The trademark clearance search process is all about proper interpretation. At the end of the day, data can't make the decision for you. It's ultimately your call. Which is why reviewing and ranking in terms of relevancy is important and helpful, especially when the results that pose the most risk are at the top of the list.