Trademark Searches

Find out how to register a trademark in California - edited

Trademark rights are based on usage, not registration. This means you don't own a trademark by selecting the name or brand. You own a trademark because you use the name or brand. To see if you can register a mark, you need to find out if anyone else has the right to the mark.

When you form a corporation, there are several processes to do. You might want to register a trademark, and an aspect of this is to conduct trademark searches. This article can help you find out more about the trademark process.

United States Trademark Office Search-Structured Search

The first place to see if someone owns your name or brand is to see if anyone has registered the trademark or attempted to register the mark. The USPTO has a search feature. This feature will solely search the USPTO database, meaning that only if someone attempts to register your name or brand as a trademark, then the name will appear. 

If the name or brand has more than one word, you need to check for all the words. A structured search of non-punctuated marks with and for both words to appear is typically the first search. Typically the search will retrieve many marks, and you must review each combination. 

Even this limited search will not tell you if any mark is confusingly similar to your brand or name trademark. A mark is confusingly similar, if the public will be confused about whether your mark is similar to someone else's trademark. This is a factual determination. Marks that are generic or merely descriptive are not good either as they may not be allowed to be registered. This is the first step.

Secretary of State-website database

A second place to check for a trademark search is to see if the mark is available by State. You can check your State to see if there is a State trademark database. You can obtain a trademark solely within your State that protects you solely in your State. If there is a Federal v Trademark then that mark is good in all fifty states. 

You also can check the Secretary of State database for both LLCs and incorporations to see if the name or brand is available in your State. The same concerns of confusingly similar, generic, or descriptive names apply when checking the name, brand, or trademark in your State database.

Internet (Google and other browsers)

A third place to check on a trademark for search purposes is Google Search combined with a domain checker to see if the domain name is taken for your name, brand, or trademark. The same rules apply to confusingly similar, generic, or descriptive names when checking the name, brand, or trademark with a domain name checker or search function.

Social Media

As part of the trademark process check social media for your name, brand, or trademark. Social media platforms are another good place to check for trademark usage. 

Industry Publications

You should also check industry and publication databases. is a good database for this. Essentially, there are thousands of databases to check. The more databases you check, the more likely your trademark will succeed.


What is the purpose of registering a business?

When you register your business name with the Secretary of State website, you might wish to also register for a trademark. This is to register your usage of the brand or name.

What legal documents do I need to start a business?

You will need to register your business. Different business entities require different legal documents. You may choose to register a trademark and an employer identification number is also essential.

What is a Trademark Search?

When going thorugh the trademark process you will need to conduct a trademark Search if you would like to register a trademark. A trademark is not something you own, you register your rights to use a name or brand. You can do a trademark search online at the united states patent and trademark office USPTO.

Final Word

You will need to conduct trademark searches as part of the process for registering a trademark with the USPTO. In this article, we go through the basics. If you would like a more comprehensive step-by-step approach to registering a trademark then take the Ultimate Trademark Course at Legal Stepz.


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