No Such Thing as a Free Launch
Whatever did we do without Google? These days we love “googling;” it’s how we research our lives. But sometimes we love it so much that we don’t recognize its shortcomings.
For example, late last year a tech website featured tips on naming start-ups. It advised budding entrepreneurs to research their potential trademark to avoid coming into conflict with competitors but then added that, “an hour with Google should tell you everything you need to know.”
Try telling that to one of the many new businesses that have had to change their name after investing in websites, branding and logos. World Trademark Review gives some toe-curling examples in an article on searches: a brewery due to open after four years of preparation had to change its name at short notice; a coffee and juice bar that was forced to come up with a new name two days before opening; and a boutique that had to abandon its name after two years of successful trading.
The longer a business has a name, brand or logo, the more it has invested in it, the more goodwill it has acquired and the more it stands to lose. While the tangible costs — the website, the labels, the packaging and so on — can be substantial, the unseen overhead is often even more. So is it worth the risk?
Yet, when deadlines are approaching and budgets are stretched, is it really so bad to rely on search engines or some of the other free tools available over paid-for options? Well, the short answer is yes. And there are three main reasons why.
Despite the convenience of free search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, they are simply not designed for trademark research. Instead, some might opt for the various services offered by regional trademark and patent offices, such as EUIPO and USPTO, but these lists of registered trademarks are often tainted by common user errors. On top of this, neither search engines nor the services offered by trademark patent offices include common law marks — unregistered trademarks, company names or domain names.
A paid-for option like CompuMark, on the other hand, reviews all trademark content on intake, making for a far more accurate and reliable experience. Our service in particular corrects 7% of USPTO and 4% of EUIPO data, while also optimizing our own data to enable our proprietary search engine to return stronger results. The data provided is gathered from an array of sources and databases — not just trademark offices — around the world, providing a more comprehensive (and easy to analyze) view of the landscape.
On top of this, all results include common law marks, making for a more comprehensive screening process.
Advanced Technical Capabilities
Because of the way in which they are architected, search engines will only provide results from businesses with an online presence, and the algorithms they use often means they will naturally suppress small businesses and product names — something which could unknowingly lead to a serious infringement case. They also won’t deliver variant spellings, prefix, suffix or mid-words that help to provide a full picture of your potential mark, all of which makes for misleading and unreliable trademark research.
In contrast with the restrained capabilities of free search engines, CompuMark offers the most robust and agile set of filtering, sorting and reporting tools available anywhere, making it easier to zero-in on critical marks and collaborate with colleagues and clients. Through various data optimization methods, it is able to return those hard-to-find yet hugely important results that search engines would otherwise miss, including homonyms that would have otherwise been overlooked completely.
Sophisticated Reporting Tools
Obviously the trademark screening process is extremely important, but it’s equally vital to ensure you can share the results with the wider business or clients in a way that is clear and coherent. Ideally there needs to be options to filter and sort results according to certain criteria for an even more transparent view of the findings.
However, search engines and other free alternatives only offer very light filtering and sorting tools, making it hard to zero-in on important findings. Meanwhile, their reporting tools are virtually non-existent, making it difficult to track history of searches or share results with colleagues and clients.
CompuMark, on the other hand, presents results and data in context, filtered according to requirements which, in turn, helps streamline the review process. Our offering also includes collaboration tools that allow for easy flagging, highlight and commenting, as well as sharing with colleagues via custom reporting.
It may sound painstaking, but think of the work involved in re-inventing an already-successful company — cut down in its prime — because of a clash of names (and corresponding trademark owners) which suddenly becomes apparent. It’s bad enough spending significant sums of money in litigation. It’s perhaps even worse if you have to change your name and brand because of conflict with another organization – especially when this could have been easily anticipated by taking the right steps.