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Before you can even consider applying for a trademark, you’ll want to consider completing a trademark search. Without one, you could complete the application and pay all that money only to learn that the name you’ve chosen isn’t eligible for trademark protection. It’s already registered by someone else! A trademark search service will help you locate those possible conflicts before you run into that problem.

Of course, not all trademark search services are the same. There are a few different kinds that will give you a basic understanding of the eligibility of your name or other trademarked materials. At Bold Patents, we don’t just offer trademark search services. We can also provide legal opinions if you run into any trouble.

Why You Need a Trademark Search

There are two basic kinds of items that you may be considering for trademark protection. Those are wordmarks and design marks.


A wordmark is anything letter-based or number-based, like a business or product name or a slogan. Here the wordmark is ABC with no claim to the logo design.

Design Mark

A design mark covers the way something looks. The most common example is a logo, but other things like typefaces or specific color schemes may be part of this as well.

Right off the bat, it’s far easier to search existing wordmarks than it is to check on designs. Most online databases easily support word-based searches, but design searches are a bit trickier. At Bold Patents, we usually recommend that newer business owners focus on protecting their wordmarks before moving to design mark protection. But either way, they’ll need to search.

Online Trademark Search Service Provider Options

You can only trademark something if you’re the only person using the name in that specific industry. Your name also can’t be close to someone else’s to the point where it could be easily confused for that brand. So, for example, you might be able to open a grocery store called “Apple Grocery Store.” But expect a lawsuit if you open a printing service called “Apple Printers.”

It’s that area where a lot of people stumble. They search their mark and find no exact matches, so they assume they’re safe. But even a close match can get you in trouble if you’re in the same industry. That’s why there is such a market for online trademark search service providers. It’s not just about the search. It’s about the opinion.

Here are a few different types of trademark search options.

Pros Cons 
Self Service
You use the USPTO’s search database (TESS) to locate names like yours. 
  • Free
  • Relatively easy
  • Fast
  • High chance of errors
  • No legal opinions
  • Not comprehensive 
You use the database of a private company after paying a fee. 
  • Easy to use 
  • Lower cost 
  • Fast 
  • No legal opinions
  • Potential errors 
  • Not comprehensive 
Online Legal Services
You pay an online legal service provider to perform the search and return a basic opinion.
  • Strong support for wordmark searches
  • Better support for design searches 
  • Limited legal opinions
  • Slower turnaround 
  • Higher cost 
  • No detailed legal opinions 
Full-Service Firms
You work with a full-service legal firm that will complete a comprehensive search and then provide a detailed legal opinion.
  • Comprehensive support for both wordmarks and design marks
  • Extensive legal opinions
  • Additional aid throughout the trademark process 
  • Highest cost option 
  • Longest turnaround time

At Bold Patents, we strive for transparency. If you have a very unusual name, no design marks, and little competition, you may be safe going with one of the free or lower-cost options—and we’ll tell you so.

However, there are three times we always recommend you consult with an experienced legal expert like Bold Patents:

  1. You’re a novice to both trademarks and the art of trademark searches.
  2. You think your invention’s name could potentially be mistaken for someone else’s invention.
  3. You’re looking to protect a design mark.

In those cases, you need a detailed legal opinion. Trademarks are a tricky part of the law that can create a lot of expenses for you if they’re not handled right. That’s why we take a collaborative approach with our trademark clients, to walk them through the risks and benefits of protecting their intellectual property.

At Bold Patents, we offer trademark search services and the information you need to protect your IP. If you’re ready to take the next step, connect with us on our contact page or call 800-849-1913 for more information.