Trademark Search Costs
You may perform your own trademark search for free or pay for someone else to search for you. Usually a paid trademark search is a one-time transaction in conjunction with an intended or pending application for trademark registration. However, it is also increasingly popular to monitor both potential infringing uses of your trademark and competitor trademark expansion via an ongoing (usually monthly) report.
Because the depth and quality of each trademark search or monitoring service varies widely it is also important to know what you are paying for. For example, your quoted trademark search or monitoring price might include any one or more of the following:
- Direct and similar match records on the USPTO’s federal trademark database;
- Pending trademark registrations published on the USPTO’s Official Gazette;
- Direct and similar match filings on individual state trademark databases;
- Direct and similar match results for common law (unregistered) trademarks;
- Direct and similar match records on one or more foreign trademark databases;
- Prosecution history for direct and similar match trademarks;
- Litigation history for direct and similar match more trademarks; and
- Opinions regarding any of the above search results and focusing on issues of trademark strength, availability, and infringement.
Basic Searches (usually less than $100)
Unless stated otherwise any “basic” or “knockout service will be limited to direct and similar match records on the USPTO’s federal trademark database and, for most small businesses and startup companies on a budget this should be sufficient to get a snapshot view of the trademark climate around their existing or intended brands.
Comprehensive Searches (from $100 to as much as you are willing to pay for)
Comprehensive Searches usually expand the scope of a Basic Search to cast as wide a net as you are willing to pay for. If you are filing in the United States, still care about your budget, and don’t intend to expand into foreign markets, a search that looks at both federal and common law trademark sources is usually sufficient for your needs. If, however, you intend to spend significant resources on your branding then casting as wide a net as possible (federal, state, common law, and foreign database, prosecution and litigation history) is more prudent.
Legal Opinions (worth a premium)
Keep in mind that trademarks are a matter of law and that there are many trademark search services unable or unwilling to provide a legal opinion on the results they provide you. This is like being given a map to a minefield but not being told how to read it. Search results accompanied by legal opinions command a small premium but are nearly always worth it.