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The growth of the Internet has changed nearly every facet of the human existence, and commerce is no exception. The mass proliferation and availability of Internet services has allowed merchants to tap into new audiences and markets that would have been impossible for them to reach earlier. As global commerce continues to expand, there has also been a correlated increase in the number of trademark applications filed each year. According to WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organisation), the number of trademark applications filed with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) rose nearly 10% in the 2014-15 period, and a similar trend was seen in Europe. India saw an even bigger rate of growth, with the number of applications filed rising by over 20% in the same time frame.
As with any phenomenon, it’s not all sunshine and roses. The internet may have made it easier for brand owners and merchants to reach a wider range of customers; but it’s also made it more difficult to pick a unique brand name, as giving customers the ability to purchase goods and services from anywhere in the world also results in them coming into contact with brands from around the world. The ubiquity of online marketplaces has also allowed for unscrupulous merchants to more easily impersonate a well-recognised, popular brand.
If you’re a brand owner, these two situations are both cause for concern. How do you ensure that you’ve chosen a mark that doesn’t infringe on somebody else’s existing mark? On the other hand, how do you ensure that you’re able to catch somebody infringing on your mark at the earliest, and take the requisite legal action so as to ensure that you’re not embroiled in long-running and costly litigation? The answer to both of these issues is the same – you conduct a trademark search.
If you’re looking to establish a brand, you would ideally want to pick a mark that’s unique, distinctive, and instantly recognisable. There is always the possibility, however that another proprietor somewhere else has gone through the same thought processes you have, and arrived at a mark that’s similar enough to yours to be a hindrance to your ambitions for the mark. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, a brand owner can conduct what is referred to as a clearance search.
A clearance search is a search performed to ensure that a mark is available to use. A search can be cursory or comprehensive, depending on the demands of the brand owner. The difference between the two types of searches is usually the number and nature of trademark databases that are looked through by the party performing the search. There are a number of different trademark databases that can be searched so as to increase the likelihood of a mark being free to use, and this post aims to explain what the most popular of these are and the different aspects that each database covers.
When it comes to protecting a brand, securing the trademarks and logos are something that appears at the top of our mind. Before we register our Logo and Trademarks it is important to ensure right at the beginning that the mark is available for use and we are not infringing on someone else intellectual properties. Here comes the importance of a full logo search or a trademark image search that will help us determine if we are investing right.
Quickcompany proudly presents the first ever reverse image search tool from India for identifying similar visual trademarks. Our results are scale, position and background colour invariant, an improvement over the WIPO / EUIPO search engines that have set the global benchmark for shape based similarity results.
Results vary from splendid to absolutely rotten at times depending on the availability of similar logos in the Indian trademark database. With international brand logos on the other hand, the results are mostly brilliant. (That’s a rather vague remark I know but there aren’t any tagged large scale illustration databases out there to quantify this. We got 75 % + precision with the MPEG-7 database with 70 classes of 20 images each among the top 10 hits. And most of the misses in the top 10 results turned out to be very closely related to the query as you can see from the image below. This is the rotation / reflection invariant version which we haven’t made live yet. ) Out of the 3.5 million + trademarks in the Indian Trademark database, approximately a million of them are tagged as visual trademarks but about 70 % of them are wordmarks that are tagged wrongly as visual marks. Out of the remaining 300,000 odd images, more than 50 % of them suffer from bad compression artefacts so we are looking at only about a 100,000 + reasonably good images. Nonetheless, we were able to detect many blatant IP violations of popular brands.
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