The team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge, Stephen Jones, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Hayleigh Bosher, Tian Lu and Cecilia Sbrolli.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Battle of the free trade mark databases – Global Brand Database versus TMview

WIPO’s ROMARIN database is being phased out at the end of this year. The status of international trade marks is obtainable through Madrid Monitor.

Of interest for the trade mark practitioner is another tool of WIPO, the Global Brand Database. In addition to international marks, this database contains the records of many national registries. Sounds familiar? Yes, but it is not to be confused with the EUIPO’s TMview, although that freely accessible database also contains international registrations as well as many national marks. How do the two offerings compare?


Coverage (yes, this should be a table. F... Blogger)
TMview claims to contain 42 million records, the Global Brand Database 30 million (as of 8 August 2017). The coverage of the two databases differs considerably, however. While both contain the important international registrations, EU marks, US marks and German marks, TMview is much stronger for other European countries. The UK register is missing from the Global Brand Database, for example. On the other hand, the WIPO’s Appellation of Origins (Lisbon) register is missing from TMview. Overall, from a European perspective, TMview has a leg up. See the image on the right for the full list of registries covered, with registers in both databases in green and European registries in blue (click to enlarge).

Search capabilities
Both databases allow the usual Boolean search operators. Interestingly, both also implement a “fuzzy search” that finds similar terms (see the respective help pages for how to use the fuzzy search). Both databases allow adjusting the “fuzzy factor”. To test the fuzzy search functions, I searched for “steiger” in Nice class 3, designated country “Germany” with a fuzzy factor of 50% / 0.5 in both databases. The Global Brand Database returns 14 hits, among them Staiger, Steiner, No Regrets and Steger. TMview fails to find “No Regrets”, but additionally returns steizer and Steigner. Increasing the fuzziness factor (by setting it to 10% - lower score means fuzzier search) does not increase the number of hits in this case.

The Global Brand Database also contains a phonetic search option for the brand field (drop down menu to the right of the text field in the “Brand” tab). I tested it using the same search parameters as before. The phonetic search returns 30 hits. Interestingly, “No Regrets” is missing, but additionally, “Stage One”, “On Stage”, “Stage”, “Sidecar” “Dr. Stöcker” and others are found. I personally find the phonetic search more useful than the fuzzy search, it appears more aligned with how humans would see the similarities of signs.

The Brand Database also allows searching for words in the “image” field, i.e., instead of having to look up the Vienna code for “apple” (05.07.13, but you knew that already), you can just type in “apple” and it will find trademarks with images of apples. To test the search, I searched both for “apple” in the image field as well as using the Vienna code “05.07.13”, designated country Germany, Nice class 03. Using the Vienna code, the Brand Database returns 89 hits, using “apple” in the image field, a whopping 494. This is probably due to not all visual elements being classified according to Vienna. TMview finds 159 hits with the Vienna code “05.07.13” in Nice class 3, designated country Germany.

Overall, I would give the Global Brand Database the win in search capabilities, not only because of its phonetic search, but because it overall has more search options.

I do not know whether either database allows basic monitoring that would alert the user when a certain search returns a new hit, because I am not a registered user for either database. If any reader has any insights, please post in the comments and I will update the post.

There is no clear winner here. TMview wins on coverage, at least for European users, but the Global Brand Database has the better search options. Its phonetic search is really useful. As users, we should be thankful for having such powerful tools for free at our disposal. As commercial trade mark database operator, I would start worrying.

Btw, yes, it also bothers me that WIPO calls its database Global BRAND Database. Trade marks and brands are not the same!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TMView allows image search too

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