Starting New Business: Three Must-Do Searches to Avoid Adding Expenses

Starting New Business

In any new venture, whether it is starting a local restaurant, setting up a partnership, or even choosing a packaging/color scheme for your product or business, word, mark, and design searches must be done prior to finalizing that business or product name, before business entity formation, before registering that d/b/a (“DBA”), or even before reserving that domain name.  Else, your branding expenses could double and the going business operations could get sidetracked addressing cease-and-desist letters and threats of litigation for your allegedly infringing use of some name, logo, color scheme, or catchphrase.

You can do the searching yourself.  But, hiring an intellectual property (“IP”) attorney at the outset has, at least, one significant advantage.  An IP attorney will add value by designing an intellectual property portfolio that can be leveraged, licensed, and even sold by your business.  

Fox Law is skilled in creating value for its clients through IP and understands that not all are able to take advantage of Fox Law’s services.  For those with a do-it-yourself charge, or operating on a next-to-nothing budget, here are three ways to do an “okay” search.  

  1. Perform a trademark search on the United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) website. The USPTO provides some video guidance on trademark searching.
  2. Perform a copyright search on the United States Copyright Office website (post-1978 records).  The Copyright Office provides some guidance on copyright searching.
  3. Perform an Internet search using your contemplated business name, contemplated d/b/a combined with keywords relating to your commercial offerings.  See if anything is similar. 
  • Much litigation has happened over what is and is not “similar.”  Because you are doing the search yourself, you will probably want to make sure that there is nothing spelled, phonetic or otherwise, similar to a prior existing product, service, or business in your addressable consumer market, or in any market that might be considered sufficiently similar to cause consumer confusion (e.g., if you sell coffee, you might want to check the doughnut market too).
  • Browsing the images returned in your search is helpful.

This “okay” search is not a substitute for getting experienced legal counsel on your particular circumstances.  Moreover, by not getting advice from experienced IP counsel, like Fox Law, you will probably not maximize the value of your business from its inception.  You might be “okay” for trademark and copyright, but if you are worried about patent rights then more must be done.  Fox Law has registered patent attorneys that can service all of your IP needs, including patents. 

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Matthew Fox