Trademark registration is an integral part of brand building, as it enables businesses to safeguard their brand name and identity and differentiate their products. Entrepreneurs should ensure their trademarks are unique before filing a registration application.
Trademarks comprise designs, symbols, signs, and expressions used by a business to differentiate it from its competitors. It plays a crucial role in brand building by aiding companies to build a brand identity for themselves. Hence, all companies need to consider filing for a trademark to protect their unique name, symbol, or logo. However, before filing such an application, entrepreneurs need to ensure their symbol or name is unique. A trademark public search allows companies to check the availability of a trademark. Here’s a look at everything you need to know about a trademark public search.
What Does Trademark Public Search Mean?
A trademark public search enables businesses to check the availability of a trademark in India. A public search allows companies to find already registered trademarks by going through public online records. As a result, it can help companies avoid using the same trademark and find a unique and distinguishing mark. The trademark office grants such intellectual property rights only to applications that are unique and genuine. As a result, if another trademark with the same name, symbol, or logo as yours already exists, the trademark office will reject your application. Therefore, before applying for registration, individuals and companies must ensure that their trademarks are unique.
Types of Trademark Public Search
In India, the public search for trademark facility has three parameters or categories, which are as follows:
Wordmark search applies to the goods and services which use wordmarks to identify and differentiate themselves. It indicates any word or marks that help in identifying or distinguishing any goods or services. Wordmarks include words, letters, numbers, and typographic characters. If the name of the product of any company that produces goods or services is word-based, it comes under the wordmark-based trademark.
Viena Code Search
Viena code is an international standard for the classification of figurative elements of trademarks. Therefore, such a trademark public search is applicable for figurative elements, including images, illustrations, graphic labels, pictorial elements, and any combination of these. The trademark office provides a viena code for the trademark applicant having any figurative element. While doing a Viena code search, one must enter the Viena code followed by the class of the goods or service. India follows this international classification standard for figurative marks.
Phonetic search helps when trademarks use the same pronunciation. Similar-sounding trademarks can create confusion, and companies can use phonetic search for these. Companies can file for separate trademarks for the same name by using different spellings. Customers or the target audience of a company can confuse one for the other, leading to the loss of customers for the company. Doing a phonetic search before applying for a trademark will help in avoiding such confusion.
Classification of Goods and Services
Doing a trademark search requires businesses to categorize the goods or services. As per NICE, an international classification standard for trademark registration, there are 45 trademark categories. The first 34 categories represent goods, while the other 11 categories are for services. The classification of goods occurs in the following ways;
- Finished goods: Finished goods undergo classification based on their purpose or function.
- Multi-purpose goods: Classification occurs based on their function and the raw materials used for producing them.
- Raw materials: The system classifies such goods based on the materials used to make them.
- Multiple materials: In the case of multiple materials, the classification occurs based on the predominating material.
- Goods that form part of another product: The goods and products will share the same category in such cases.
The classification of services occurs based on the activities involved in providing that service. Moreover, rental services fall in the same class as the services provided using rented objects. Services that provide information, advice or consultation fall in the same category as the matters involving information, advice or consultation.
How to Conduct a Trademark Public Search
Companies can perform a trademark public search in two ways. The first method or preliminary search essentially checks online records and the Indian trademark database. To perform such a search, individuals must provide details regarding the search type, class specification and a description of goods or services.
The second method for trademark search, known as a full search requires professional help. An applicant can seek help from a professional agency, such as Vakilsearch to conduct a full search to check the availability of a trademark. Such agencies provide comprehensive reports based on all the important parameters such as trade publications and business records.
Why is a Public Search Required?
Doing a public search before applying for a trademark is essential for various reasons, which are as follows.
Similar trademarks can create problems among the target audience of a company. Such confusions can affect the business and the company’s reputation or brand value. A public search before applying for trademark registration will prevent any chances of confusion.
Avoid Legal Problems
Using the same trademark as another company can lead to legal problems. The other company can file legal charges against you if you operate with the same trademark. Using a registered trademark without the concern or permission of the trademark owner is also a legal offence.
Select the Best Trademark
Choosing a good trademark is vital for any company or business as it acts as the face of the company by helping establish the brand value. Conducting a public search before applying for a trademark will help businesses choose the best-suited trademark.
As you can see, conducting a public search is an integral part of filing a trademark application. However, doing only a preliminary trademark search need not be enough before applying for trademark registration. The preliminary search will only bring up potential conflicts or legal battles. On the other hand, a full search done with the help of a professional agency will highlight all possibilities of conflict with other trademark owners. Feel free to reach out to us at Vakilsearch for all your trademark registration-related queries and assistance!