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Trademark Search for Small Business: Tips and Best Practices


A trademark is a phrase, word or symbol that distinguishes a company’s goods from those of other companies. It is an important resource for all small enterprises since it promotes client retention and builds brand awareness. A thorough trademark search is essential for small businesses since it identifies possible trademark disagreements, prevents more expensive legal challenges, and safeguards the company’s brand identification. Infringing on an individual’s trademark rights due to a lack of a trademark search may result in monetary losses, harm to reputation, and legal penalties.

Trademark Search Basics

Conducting a Trademark Search

Conducting a trademark search is looking through pertinent databases to find any existing trademarks that could compete with the one your company is considering using. This may entail looking through the USPTO’s database, state trademark databases, and sources from the legal system. It is essential to do a thorough search to avoid any regulatory issues in the future.

Key Takeaways

  1. A trademark is crucial for small businesses as it distinguishes their goods from competitors and promotes brand awareness.
  2. Conducting a thorough trademark search is essential to identify potential conflicts and protect the company’s brand identity.
  3. Understanding different types of trademarks, such as generic, descriptive, suggestive, fanciful, and arbitrary, helps in selecting an appropriate mark.
  4. Various elements, including logos, words, slogans, sounds, and package designs, can be trademarked, subject to eligibility requirements.
  5. Tips for conducting a trademark search include hiring a trademark attorney, utilizing the USPTO’s trademark database, and conducting comprehensive searches using industry-specific sources.
  6. Consider hiring a trademark search company for specialized searches like wordmark, phonetic, and Vienna Code searches.
  7. Small businesses should file trademark applications early to gain advantages like reduced costs and expanded legal protections.
  8. Maintaining and consistently using the trademark in commerce is crucial to preserve registration and protect against infringement.
  9. Keeping an eye on competitors, and enforcing trademark rights through various methods like monitoring, opposition proceedings, cease-and-desist letters, and filing infringement lawsuits, is essential for brand protection.

Understanding the Different Types of Trademarks

Generic marks, Descriptive marks, Suggestive marks, Fanciful marks, and Arbitrary marks are the five main categories of product trademarks. 

Generic Marks: A generic mark is a phrase or word often used by the general public or business sector to refer to a broad class or category of goods or services. 

Descriptive Marks: A descriptive mark helps to characterize the product by identifying one or more features of a good or service.

Suggestive Marks: A suggestive mark is a form of trademark that, despite specifically specifying the product or service that it stands for, indicates or conveys anything about it.

Fanciful Marks: Fanciful marks, which are naturally unique and qualify for trademark protection, are words or phrases invented or created with no preexisting meaning.

Arbitrary Marks: Conventional words or symbols with no relation to the goods or services they stand in for and qualify as arbitrary marks are eligible for trademark protection.

In addition to the four primary types of trademarks, businesses can use a variety of other marks to safeguard their intellectual property, including service marks, certification marks, collective marks, trade dress, trade names, house marks, a family of marks, sound marks, pattern marks, position marks, hologram marks, multimedia marks, motion mark and Logotype.

What Can be Trademarked?

A trademark is used to set one company’s goods apart from the products of competitors. This can encompass many elements, including logos, words (names of goods or services), slogans, letters, abbreviations, numbers, multimedia signage, package designs, sounds, and smells. However, it’s crucial to ensure that these things adhere to the requirements for eligibility established by the applicable jurisdiction.

Tips for Conducting a Trademark Search

Hire a Trademark Attorney

Collaborating with a trademark attorney is beneficial because they can help you with the search process, give important legal assistance, carry out trademark clearance searches, help you impose and uphold your trademark rights, and represent you before the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

Use the USPTO’s Trademark Database

Utilizing the trademark database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is yet another guidance for a trademark search. The public can access patent and trademark information in several media, notably online, microfilm, and print, through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Public Search Facility in Alexandria. Nonetheless, it would be best if you also got advice from a trademark attorney.

Conduct a Comprehensive Search

Conducting a thorough search is another piece of advice for trademark research. This calls for using several sources and databases, including industry-specific, state trademark databases and sources of common law, such as company directories, social media, and online marketplaces. 

Consider Hiring a Trademark Search Company

Wordmark and phonetic searches are two particular kinds of trademark searches that people may consider while doing a comprehensive search. A wordmark search looks for trademarks with the same or comparable words to the proposed mark. Contrarily, a phonetic search looks for comparable trademarks based only on their sound, no matter how they are spelt. Vienna Code search is a further searching technique that uses the Vienna Classification system to look for comparable trademarks based on the products and services they stand for.

Best Practices for Small Businesses

File Your Trademark Application Early

Early trademark application filing has several benefits, such as reduced costs, a head start on registration, and expanded legal protections. Businesses can prevent potential infringement difficulties and legal conflicts by getting an early filing date. Early submission can ensure priority in the trademark registration process because the USPTO analyzes applications in the order they are received. Furthermore, while analyzing trademark applications, the examining attorney does not compare first-use dates. Therefore, earlier filing might be a huge benefit in trademark disputes.

Trademark registration

Maintain Your Trademark

When you have obtained a trademark registration, you must take a few crucial steps to preserve it. Your trademark has to be used commercially initially. In addition, to demonstrate that you are still using your trademark, you must file specific documents regularly. Your registration will expire or be cancelled, or your extension of protection to the United States will be void if you fail to provide these documents by the deadline. Use the trademark consistently to sustain the registration.

Keep an Eye on Competitors

Constant and noticeable use of the mark in commerce is essential for maintaining trademark rights. This promotes client loyalty and brand recognition while guarding against trademark infringement by other businesses employing similar marks. Inconsistent trademark use might cause rights to be lost and make proving infringement more difficult. As a result, it’s crucial to consistently employ the mark on product labels, packaging, and marketing collateral to avoid legal issues.

Enforce Your Trademark Rights

Five Methods to Enforce your trademark Rights

  • Keep an eye on your trademark
  • opposition/cancellation paperwork Proceedings
  • Creating a U.S. Customs and Border Protection account 
  • Sending letters of cease-and-desist
  • Filing a lawsuit for trademark infringement


In conclusion, safeguarding your trademark is essential for your fledgling company’s success. Important recommended practices include conducting a thorough trademark search, submitting your application early, using your trademark consistently, and asserting your rights. Managing the trademark procedure may be challenging and time-consuming for small business owners. Kanakkupillai fills that role.

Kanakkupillai can lead you through the procedure and ensure your brand is protected, thanks to their knowledge of trademark law and experience working with small companies. Don’t risk losing your priceless brand assets; contact Kanakkupillai immediately to begin trademark registration in India.


  1. What is a trademark search?

To find out if a proposed trademark is available and doesn’t infringe on the rights of others, one must do a trademark search on all currently registered marks.

  1. Why is a trademark search important for small businesses?

Small firms should do a trademark search to confirm that the proposed trademark can be obtained for use and registration and to prevent potential trademark infringement concerns and legal complications.

  1. Can I conduct a trademark search myself?

Yes, you may perform a trademark search on your own using free web tools like the USPTO’s trademark database, but for a thorough search, it’s advised to seek the advice of a trademark attorney or search company.

  1. What are the different types of trademarks?

Generic, descriptive, suggestive, and arbitrary or fanciful are the main types of trademarks. Trademark protection cannot be granted for generic terms. Only when descriptive marks take on a secondary meaning are they protected? The strongest and most protectable suggestive marks are arbitrary or fanciful marks that infer a trait or attribute.

  1. How do I know if my trademark is available?

To determine if your intended trademark is accessible and does not clash with other marks already in use, perform a trademark search.

  1. How long does the trademark application process take?

Based on the intricacy of the application and any objections, the trademark application procedure might take several months to several years. Normally, it takes 8 to 12 months, but if problems develop, it can take longer.

  1. What happens after I file a trademark application?

The USPTO will examine a trademark application once it is submitted to determine if the mark complies with the standards for registration. The mark will be made public for objection following approval before being registered.

  1. Can I trademark my business name?

If your company name satisfies the criteria for trademark protection—such as being unique and not confusingly similar to other trademarks in your sector or industry—you may trademark it.

  1. What distinguishes a service mark from a trademark?

A service mark differentiates between the services offered by a company or individual, whereas a trademark is intended to distinguish between similar items or products.

  1. How much does it cost to file a trademark application?

According to the country of registration and the number of classes of products or services being registered, different fees must be paid when filing a trademark application. 



Kanakkupillai is your reliable partner for every step of your business journey in India. We offer reasonable and expert assistance to ensure legal compliance, covering business registration, tax compliance, accounting and bookkeeping, and intellectual property protection. Let us help you navigate the complex legal and regulatory requirements so you can focus on growing your business. Contact us today to learn more.