“Oh, searching to find out if your trademark is available is easy! Anyone can do it. In fact, I will do it myself! And I will save all that money I should have spent on an expert searcher! Heehah!”. Pardon the over-usage of exclamation marks as well as the knowing smirk on my face…
Searching for the registrability of a trademark is NOT easy. In fact, in South Africa there are only a handful of people who really know what they are doing and most of them work for the big intellectual property firms. Months, if not years, of training is required to gain a reputation of being ‘a good searcher’. Even then, a searcher needs to step lightly around new pitfalls and the limitations of service suppliers.
I am an independent searcher and reliant on instructions from attorneys and private clients. I have been doing this for far too many years I care to mention and have done over 25 000 searches. Every time I do a search, I need to think differently – how do I approach this one? How should I change the search criteria? Which elements are the most important and which ones can I effectively discount?
The CIPC ‘special search’ is by far not comprehensive enough. All you get is a brief ‘no conflicts found’.
Alternatively, you can dig really deep in your fledgling start-up business bank account and approach one of the big firms. They are brimful of highly qualified, highly competent attorneys who want to charge you a lot of money for their services. In most cases, the majority of small entrepreneurs decide to forgo this important part of safeguarding their brand after being confronted with the costs involved.
The fact of the matter is that most start-up businesses do not require the full might of the big firms from the onset. The searches can be done cheaper and quicker by us. We use the same database as the attorneys, after all.
Most applications proceed to registration without undue complications if the ground work was sufficiently competent. The attorneys come in very handy if or when complications arise. They do know their stuff when it comes to applying the law. However, for the preliminary searching and guidance in application of your mark, they can be very expensive.
Enter yours truly, the independent. I used to work for the big firms. I learned my searching from them and after a few years went freelance. I have a small team of dedicated searchers; well-trained, conscientious and bright.
My searchers are not allowed to submit a report within the first few months of training – they are supervised until deemed sufficiently competent in searching. It is a time consuming, laborious process and one that I insist on.
We are recognised as being good at what we do. Check us out here.
In my next post I will explain the different types of trademark searches that we conduct.