What is China Trademarkdata ?
China Trademarkdata is a free trademark-searching tool. It identifies the registered trademarks which are similar in sound or spelling to the one you choose . So you can avoid the same or similar ones in your search for a new domain name or trademark. Otherwise you might have to change your name later. A risk no business should take.
China Trademarkdata enables you to find most trademark "killers" very quickly. And we don't give you search results with a lot of "noise". Our search results are based on China Trademark Office . We also show you domain name availability for .com and .net.
Until now this kind of trademark availability search - that can show you all similar trademarks - has been slow, difficult and expensive. Now it is fast, easy and free.
Why use an availability search?
The whole point of doing a trademark availability search is to avoid what the law refers to as confusions.
So you have to answer the question: Are there other similar trademarks, being used for similar or related goods/services? If there are, your new name may be infringing (violating) third party's trademark rights and they could force you to change name and even claim damage.
So the availability search should find as many relevant name problems ("killers") as possible with a minimum of search results to review (i.e. avoid the "noise").
We will find these similar trademarks for you, with a minimum of "noise". But you or your trademark expert will have to decide whether they pose a real threat to your chosen name or not. See:
How accurate is China Trademarkdata ?
Today we find most potential threats in the databases we search. The new website is very good at finding the potential name "killers" without producing a lot of "noise".
In some cases we will not find all potential name conflicts relating to your chosen name. In fact, as far as we know, nobody can guarantee you that. And there is six-month dead zone. But for most of the searches China Trademarkdata will find most of the potential threats.
What makes China Trademarkdata different?
1. We conduct a search of a wide range of databases.
This includes trademark data registered from 1980 from China Trademark Office and domain name data for .com and .net.
2. We are doing trademark business for nearly ten years, that is, we are quite experienced.
3 . The search is fast, easy and free.
What are the limitations to China Trademarkdata?
· We are unable to find all trademarks that may pose a similarity problem. To our knowledge, no trademark search can achieve this.
· We only focus on word similarity - not design similarity.
· We search two trademark databases. Even though these databases are comprehensive, there may be other threats not covered by them.
What should I do with the search result?
Route 1 - Do it yourself:
1.Limit your search to ive trademarks, relevant markets and classes. Still have an extensive hit list? Try to exclude really common words from your name.
2.Go through every registered trademark that made it into the search result and judge by their description of goods and services, if they are being used for anything related to your business.
3.Conduct web-based research on those trademarks you think are being used in a similar or related area to what your company will do.
4.Ask yourself now if the two trademarks really are similar. Is there a risk for likelihood of confusion? To find the real problems, the Markify search algorithm returns some hits that real people will not find to be similar.
5.If, after conducting your research, there still is a similar registered mark remaining in your market in a related line of business, then you have three options:
5 Abandon your name and start over with a new or modified name. A tough but often necessary decision.
5 Get expert advice. A trademark expert will basically perform steps 1-5, but he or she will do it based on years of experience and may see things from a different perspective. Sometimes a deal can be made with the trademark holder.
5 File for a registration and hope that it will pass. This is very risky if you've already found similar marks you think might pose a problem.
Route 2 - Get advice from a trademark expert:
If you don't want to do it yourself, you should get help from a trademark expert
What markets are covered?
The China Trademarkdata search uses databases of China Trademark Office.
Even though these are the largest available databases, they still do not contain all trademarks. So it's important for you to understand their limitations.
Make sure you also use web search engines to identify other possible threats - that is, names that for some reason are not registered but active in your line of business.
What class should I choose?
There are currently 45 different classes in the international classification system (the Nice system) used by most countries - 34 for products and 11 for services. The system provides a way to sort trademarks according to the kind of products or services they represent.
China Trademarkdata uses the international classifications, which you can find at: www.chinatrademarkdata.com
Usually, protection is granted only within the classes in which you've registered. However, some of the best-known brands are protected in all classes, even if they are not registered. So don't try to open up a "Nike Restaurant" or a "Google Spa".
Sometimes choosing a class is easy. Other times, it's a bit more tricky. For instance, there is no "Internet Services" class because it is considered too broad. Most trademarks are registered in one to three classes. Older trademarks are often registered in more classes since, over time, they are applied to new products and services.
· Check what classes your competitors or other similar companies are using.
· Also search in the classes you might enter over the long term.
· Some countries also check applications for conflicts in "nearby" classes.
· Many companies limit their registration to the class or classes they plan to offer in the short to mid term. Later on, they simply hope that other classes they might want to enter are available.
Three tools for determining class and description of goods and services:
1 The USPTO has a list of "Trademark Acceptable Identification of Goods & Services" You can search this list for keywords and to see in what classes your keywords are used.
2 The European Union organization OHIM's tool.
3 The UK's Intellectual Property (IP) Office also has a tool for helping you determine class
Description of Goods and Services - How?
When registering a trademark, you will have to provide a "Description of Goods and Services" in connection with each class. This is basically a list of the goods or services on which you intend to apply your trademark.
There are lots of standard descriptions provided by the registration offices, but many trademarks have their own description.
Tip: Check what descriptions your competitors or other similar companies are using.
Live and dead trademarks?
Presently Markify does not search among dead trademarks. This is because dead trademarks, with some rare exceptions (i.e. the mark is still in use, but the registration has not been extended for some reason), generally don't have any protection.
Words or logo or both - What is the difference?
When you register a trademark, you choose if the registration is for a word mark, a logo or both. Which ever you choose the trademark must be distinctive.
A word mark will prevent others from using those words or combinations of words that are so similar they may create confusion. With a word mark, you are free to change the design. In fact, you don't even need a design.
A logotype (sometimes referred to as device, design or figurative mark) is a mark where you have some sort of visual component or just a special typeface. A logo will only prevent others from using the identical, or a very similar logo.
Markify is currently only focusing on word similarity.
General trademark info
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a distinctive sign - such as words, a logo or a combination of both - that can be used to distinguish your products or services from those of your competitors.
? or ? or sm - What's the difference?
These three symbols represent the status of a mark and its level of protection. But the legal meaning of the three symbols varies from country to country.
? - for an unregistered trademark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand goods. In many markets this symbol does not have a legal implication. It is more of a way for the owner to show that he or she cares about their mark.
sm - used in the US just like the ? symbol but for an unregistered service mark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand services.
? - for a registered trademark. In many countries the use of this symbol or the other ones is optional and doesn't have any legal relevance. You have your trademark protection in the use of your trademark anyway. But in the US it is important to use the symbol if you later want to claim damages.
Do we really need trademarks?
Just like all other types of intellectual property law (patents, trade secrets and copyrights, etc), trademark law is about protecting the owner's business. But there is a fundamental difference between trademark law and other types of intellectual property - trademark law is also designed to protect consumers.
If it weren't for trademark law, you wouldn't know whether the product you just bought was what you thought it was. Any car manufacturer could call their car a Mercedes. Any fast-food chain could use a large yellow M as their logo.
"Likelihood of confusion" - What is that?
At the USPTO website you can read what "likelihood of confusion" boils down to:
"The principal factors considered by the examining attorney in determining whether there would be a likelihood of confusion are: - the similarity of the marks; and - the commercial relationship between the goods and/or services listed in the application. To find a conflict, the marks do not have to be identical, and the goods and/or services do not have to be the same. It may be enough that the marks are similar and the goods and/or services related"
So, the two most important criteria to determine if there is a likelihood of confusion are:
1. Trademark similarity - Do the two trademarks sound or look similar?
2. Related business - Are the two trademarks being applied to products or services in a similar or related line of business?
Why register a trademark?
The simple answer to this question is that it should be good for your business. In many cases, registering your trademark is a cost-effective way to:
A) Stay out of trouble
You don't want to risk having to change your name later on. Name changes are one of the most painful processes a company can go through. If you are infringing on another similar trademark, now or in the future, you may be forced to change your name and pay for damages and lawyer fees.
B) Protect your business
Without a trademark registration, you run the risk that a competitor starts doing business under a similar name, "stealing" your customers or confusing them. This can be very damaging for your business.
C) Create value
When you register a trademark, you are protecting something that has the potential to become valuable. A trademark is an intellectual property that, when used and renewed every ten years, has an indefinite lifetime. By protecting it, you are adding to the value of your business.
Strictly speaking, if your brand becomes known without a trademark registration, you have trademark protection anyway. The problem is that you will have the burden of proving that you were known in the customer group before the other similar, registered trademark. This may be a lot harder than it seems. The trademark registration is an easy way to prove that you were first and have exclusive rights.
When is it unnecessary
to register a trademark?
Basically you can skip registering a trademark when:
· It really doesn't matter that somebody starts using the same or a similar name.
· It really doesn't matter that you might have to change your name in the future.
Very few businesses would answer yes to either of those questions. But admittedly there are cases when these risks are smaller:
1 You plan to run your business on a very generic domain name that is hard or impossible to trademark because it is a very common word, like "Poker", "Fund" or "Cowboy hats". Risks:
o With a generic name, your risk of infringing upon another trademark is much smaller but you should still conduct a name similarity check. Domain names that are similar to a registered trademark can later be claimed by the trademark owner.
o The major risk here is that a competitor starts doing business on a very similar domain name, stealing or deceiving your customers. Funds.com competing with Fund.com. BestPoker.com taking some customers from Poker.com. Etc.
2 Your company will have very few customers and you don't plan to market your company. You are maybe running a holding company or a one man consulting shop.
3 You are running a local store, restaurant, hotel or service company in a smaller town. Risks:
o You still have to ensure that you are not infringing another trademark.
o There is still a risk that somebody will open a similar business under a similar name and start stealing or deceiving your customers.
While a lot of companies take some of the above risks, that doesn't mean it is the smart thing to do. Don't forget that well-managed smaller companies tend to grow into bigger companies. So having a strong name from the start doesn't hurt.
Isn't registering a domain name sufficient?
Securing an attractive domain name is certainly a good start. But if you have any intention of growing your business, including marketing your products and services, you'll need to make sure that your name is not infringing upon someone else's trademark rights. Otherwise you may need to change your name - a risk no business should take.
If your plan is to use a very generic domain name that is impossible to trademark, you might skip the trademark registration.
What does it cost to register?
There are two types of fees involved:
1. The government fees:
· US (USPTO): 275-325 USD per class.
· Europe (CTM): 900 Euros (1100 USD) for three classes. Another 150 Euros per additional class.
2. Advisory fees from a trademark expert/lawyer can vary a great deal: 150 USD - 3000 USD. The fees depend largely on which of these services they perform for you:
1 Search - The trademark expert/lawyer buys a similarity search, sometimes called availability search, from a search provider. Now they can use Markify instead.
2 Clearance - The trademark expert/lawyer goes through the search result list and determines whether there are any potentially serious conflicting registrations. The hours spent here depend on the number of similar already registered trademarks that needs to be checked, the number of classes and the number of markets.
3 Registration - Help with filling out the forms, determining classes and description of goods.
4 Correspondence - Help with the various situations that may occur during the registration process.
Should I engage a trademark
lawyer to register?
It depends. A lot of new companies use trademark experts or lawyers to help them, both in the screening and registration processes. And a lot of companies still do it themselves.
It depends on you and on the situation:
· What risk level can you tolerate? Using an expert minimizes risk.
· Is it a complex situation with potentially conflicting registrations? This is where an expert can help.
· Do you have the time to do it yourself?
· Can you afford the expert fees?
If you decide to do it yourself, you should be prepared to learn a bit and read the complete help file.