Main Guide:Intellectual Property
A trademark is a recognizable sign, design or expression which serves as a source identifier for consumers. A trademark is a form of intellectual propertythat can be owned by an individual, a business organization, or any other legal entity. Trademarks can be located on packaging, labels, vouchers, or on the product itself. Companies often feature trademarks on company buildings to show corporate identity.
Main Article: Trademark Search
In the United States, the USPTO maintains a database of registered trademarks. The database is completely open to the public, however a licensed attorney may be required to interpret the meaning of the search results. Because trademarks are governed by federal law, state law, and common law - it is important to ensure that you are conducting a thorough search. Conducting a trademark search and relying upon the results of a licensed attorney can insulate business owners from being required to pay treble damages (3x normal damages) and attorney's fee in the event that a trademark infringement lawsuit is filed.
The USPTO Trademark Database can be accessed here.
In Europe, trademark searches must be conducted with the OHIM (Community Trademark Office) and with individual country offices.
Main Article: Trademark Registration
Trademarks are legally a form of property. Rights in relation to a trademark can be obtained through either actual use in the marketplace or through formal registration of the mark with the trademark office of a particular jurisdiction.