A word or mark that distinguishes your goods/services from the goods/services of others is considered a trademark and may be registered for protection. To avoid infringing on someone else’s trademark, you need to search for similar trademarks that have already been registered, but there is no single website or database to do an international trademark search. Here are the relevant websites for trademark searches:

United States Trademark Search (USPTO)

Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) allows you to search the USPTO’s database of registered trademarks and prior pending applications to find marks that may prevent registration.

European Trademark Search

EU trademarks are registered at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and a single registration covers all 28 member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

South African Trademark Search

The CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission) office provides an esearch website database of registered trademarks in South Africa.

ARIPO Trademark (Africa) Search

The ARIPO online services provides a database of all registered trademarks from all ARIPO member states which include: Botswana, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Australian Trade Mark On-line Search System (ATMOSS)

The Australian Trade Mark On-line Search System (ATMOSS) office provides an electronic database of registered trademarks in Australia. Separate searches need to be performed to find trademarks in the New Zealand database.

China Trademark Search

The China Patent & Trademark Office website provides a database of all registered trademarks in the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong currently has a separate legal system and local registrations are necessary.