Searches for patents and trademarks are useful since they can save an applicant time and money. Searches may be conducted at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Virginia, by visiting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, or at Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs) nationwide. Locate a PTRC near you.
The Main Library Reference Section (5th floor) houses the PTRC for Broward County and several surrounding counties that do not have a PTRC. There are specialized materials that are only available in the Reference Section or at other PTRCs. Furthermore, the staff in the Reference Section receives specialized training and is knowledgeable in how to find answers to a variety of intellectual property questions.
Performing a good trademark search can be useful. One reason for doing a trademark search is that one of the criteria for obtaining a trademark is that it must not be confusingly similar to other marks. There are other grounds for refusal. All reasons why the USPTO may refuse to register a mark. Another reason for doing a trademark search is to discover potentially conflicting marks belonging to others who have been using their marks with similar products or services whether they have a Federal registration, a State registration, or no registration at all.
Although searching for Federal trademarks and many state trademarks is possible on the Internet, searching for patents or trademarks should be initiated at a PTRC. Trademark searching on the Internet may be complicated for novice searchers, especially when searching for logos. Searchers who visit a Patent and Trademark Resource Center will find information regarding the USPTO's recommended search steps provided in their web page Conducting a Trademark Search page.
Note that if a trademark is not found in the USPTO trademark database, it does not necessarily mean that the trademark is available for use. In the U.S., trademark rights are conferred by use and it is not necessary to register a trademark, although registration does offer a certain level of protection. If no similar mark has been found in this database, further searching is recommended. A more exhaustive search of state registrations, industry and trade association directories, phone books, and other sources of common law trademark and trade name information should be initiated.
The more searching you do the better the indication you will have as to whether your word or phrase is available to be used/registered. You may wish to consult an attorney before applying for a trademark.
Staff is available to assist in the use of these materials, but will not perform a trademark search nor offer advice, interpretation or opinion regarding the registrability of a mark.
For more information about trademarks please see Basic Facts about Trademarks at the USPTO's website.
Links to Websites on Trademarks
State of Florida Trademarks – Division of Corporations website for the State of Florida which allows users to search for State of Florida Trademarks. Hold mouse over "Document Searches" and then over "Corporation Trademark LLC LP" and then click on Inquire by Trademark Name or Inquire by Trademark Owner Name as appropriate, to get to the search screen. Alternately, click on the links provided here to get to the appropriate search screen directly.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – This United Nations agency is "responsible for the promotion of the protection of intellectual property throughout the world through cooperation among" member countries "and for the administration of various multilateral treaties dealing with the legal and administrative aspects of intellectual property."
U.S. Court of Appeals – This court has jurisdiction to entertain appeals for decisions issued by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Trademark News & Notices – USPTO’s web page for news announcements related to trademarks.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - Trademarks - Laws & Regulations - Rule Making – Sorted by year, this page includes requests for public comments on proposed regulatory rulemaking.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web Trademark Database – USPTO's website for searching registered and pending trademark records.
Other Trademark Sites of Interest
All About Trademarks – Website from a law firm providing information on trademarks including the legal aspects of trademarks and links to State Trademark offices among other information.
Broward County Library Online Resources – Reference business databases available through the Broward County Library website. Includes Business Reference Databases.
Thomas Register of American Manufacturers – Online directory of U.S. manufacturers for supplemental searching.
State Trademark Information from FindLaw – This site provides links to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, for their respective State Trademark information.
Trademark Databases of the World – This page from the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Association (PTDLA) website provides links to two resources with links to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, for their respective State Trademark information as well as some links to international intellectual property offices.
Trademark Soundex (from the USPTO Kids Pages) – MP3 or WAV files of many trademarks that are embodied in sound. Registered and pending trademarks are available for listening.
U.S. Trademark History Timeline – A website from the Houston PTRC giving an historical look at trademarks in U.S. history. The timeline also includes a look at the use of identifying marks from prehistoric times to the modern age.
Please send your questions and comments about these sites and suggestions for other sites to firstname.lastname@example.org.