The objective of this fact sheet is to introduce you to trademark searching using the most relevant databases at the European and International level.
Before entering into the process of applying for a trademark, you should ensure that it is free to use, meaning that it should not be similar or identical to any trademark already existing (registered or undergoing the filing process) for the classes of products or services it applies to. Once you have registered your trademark, it is also important to regularly consult trademark databases in order to check if similar or identical trademarks to yours are being registered. As this would affect your earlier rights and lead to infringement, consulting the databases allow you to prevent unlawful registrations by engaging in opposition procedures. These databases are also an excellent source of business information. In fact, knowing the trademarks filed by a competitor can give you some insight into its commercial strategy, i.e. what kind of product or service is or will arrive on the market and in which territories it is intended to be marketed.
Trademarks are of a great importance also in EU funded projects, such as the ones in the framework of FP7 or CIP. Indeed, in case of future commercialisation of related products or services, if the name of the project is to be used, it needs to be available for the class of product or services for which it is intended to be used.
As you can see, there are many good reasons to perform trademarks searches.