Given the increasingly crowded alcohol beverage industry, picking a unique name is becoming more and more daunting. Having a full clearance search performed is advisable for the following obvious, and not so obvious, reasons.
Three main benefits to clearance searches
(Most obvious benefit.) To know what else is out there. This gives you peace of mind that the name is clear and available for your use, or at least gives you an early idea of who else is using a similar name, and how they are using it.
Snapshot in time of third party use (or lack thereof). If someone challenges your use in the future, you can point to the results as evidence that their use was not very visible to others and their rights should be limited accordingly. “Common law” (i.e., unregistered) trademark rights are usually limited geographically to the areas where such use occurred. Having this snapshot in time can help pin down a third party’s use of a mark to the area where such use occurred.
Protection for you against a claim that you intentionally infringed rights of a third party. You can minimize your risk by showing you did your due diligence and relied on an attorney’s opinion that the name was available for your use. Clients are often concerned that they might be liable for as much as triple a plaintiff’s actual damages in a trademark infringement lawsuit. If you can show you relied on a trademark attorney’s legal advice, you may be able to show that any infringement was unintentional, and may be able to avoid some of these substantial damages.
We are typically capable of performing a trademark clearance search and providing a written legal opinion from a trademark attorney within 1-2 days. Expedited search reports may be available for an additional fee.