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Entrepreneurship Resources: Trademarks

Last Updated: May 21, 2024 3:36 PM



Recognize these trademarks?

TD Bank, Apple, Nike, Champion, BlackBerry, Google, BMW


Disclaimer: UB library staff are not able to provide any legal advice. This guide is purely for helping you learn about and search for patents. If you need legal assistance, please consult a licensed attorney.

Trademarks for Entrepreneurs

What are Trademarks?


Additional Resources


Researching Trademarks

Given the value of trademarks in the marketplace, it is highly recommended that an entrepreneur conduct a search of all registered trademarks prior to use. There are a few common issues to look out for as you conduct your search.

1. Your trademark cannot look so similar to a registered trademark that it is likely to be confused with the registered trademark. The USPTO has an excellent explanation and examples describing the "likelihood of confusion" concept.

2. Your trademark cannot be generic, or, in other words, a common every day name for an item. Remember when the Ohio State University attempted (and succeeded) to brand the word "the" on officially licensed merchandise? It made headlines because Ohio State successfully convinced the USPTO that the word "The" and its licensing of apparel were so interrelated that a trademark was necessary to protect licensing revenues. An important note to keep in mind is that this trademark only extends to clothing, footwear, and headgear. Generally speaking, a generic name will not be eligible for a trademark.

3. Your trademark cannot be a commonly used phrase, it needs to be a description of a good or service.


How do I conduct background research on my trademark?

Federal Trademark Database

USPTO Training Videos on YouTube

  • Tip: Use the chapter headings (under "More") to navigate the longer videos. 

"How to Search the Trademark Database" PDF