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"A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services. It’s how customers recognize you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors" (USPTO).
"An investigation to discover any potential conflicts between a proposed trademark and existing ones, and preferably done before a new trademark is used in commerce. A trademark search reduces the possibility of inadvertently infringing a mark belonging to someone else. A business can conduct a preliminary search using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's online trademark database. The most thorough trademark searches are accomplished by professional search firms" (Nolo).