A comprehensive clearance search means checking a variety of resources to determine whether your trademark conflicts with other existing trademarks.
You should search for trademarks that are confusingly similar to yours when used with goods and services that are the same as or related to yours. Doing this can help you avoid costly and time-consuming issues, such as:
- A refusal to register based on a likelihood of confusion with a registered trademark for goods or services related to yours
- An opposition proceeding to prevent registration of your United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)-approved trademark or a cancellation proceeding against your trademark registration
- A trademark infringement lawsuit
We strongly recommend you search for federally registered and pending trademarks that may conflict with yours before filing your federal trademark application. You can use our free resources to do so, which can help you avoid a likelihood of confusion refusal during the application process.
We also recommend you search for common-law use of the trademark by others. Common-law rights are based solely on someone using their trademark in commerce within the United States with specific goods or services and may affect the rights provided by your federal registration if the common-law use was earlier than the use supporting your registration. Therefore, we encourage you to search the internet for third-party references to your trademark (and similar trademarks) used with goods or services that are related to your goods or services.
A comprehensive clearance search includes:
- The USPTO trademark search system of federally registered and pending trademarks
- Trademark Official Gazette (TMOG): A USPTO weekly publication that includes Principal Register trademarks that received preliminary approval for registration
- U.S. state trademark and business registries: The USPTO page for links to trademark registration information for the 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico
- Domain name registries: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers page for domain name registrants
- Madrid Monitor: The database of international trademark registrations processed in the Madrid System
- Global Brand Database: The World Intellectual Property Organization’s search engine for trademarks from national and international sources
- EUIPO: The landing page for the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s (EUIPO)
- TMview, a database of trademark applications and registered trademarks from all EU national IP offices, the EUIPO, and several international partner offices outside the EU
- Internet: Check multiple search engines to look for goods and services that may conflict with yours
A comprehensive clearance search can feel overwhelming. At a minimum, be sure to check our database and the TMOG for federal applications and registrations, and also search the internet for common-law use.
For a more in-depth search, you may choose to use a trademark screening service or work with an experienced U.S.-licensed attorney. An attorney can provide a clearance search and interpret the search results as well as advise you on how to apply for federal trademark registration.
DISCLAIMER: References to particular trademarks, service marks, certification marks, products, services, companies, or organizations appearing on this page are for illustrative and educational purposes only and do not constitute or imply endorsement by the U.S. government, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the USPTO or any other federal agency.