Trademark search is a process of searching through a given IP office's database to find already registered trademarks that could be considered confusingly similar to an applicant's mark. Since trademarks exist to inform consumers about the source of goods/services provided under them, one of the criteria for successful registration is passing this similarity search (either by having no conflicts or sometimes by resolving them)
A trademark search is carried out by the IPO's examiner during the assessment of the application. What happens next depends on the jurisdiction - some jurisdictions stop the application if they identify a similarity, and some inform the owners of the found trademarks, who can then come forward during the opposition window and challenge the applicant's mark.
A trademark search can also be performed on the applicant's side before applying to establish the chances of a particular trademark being successfully registered. In case you find out there are multiple similar brands that could pose a threat to your registration, you can still reconsider your options.
Since trademark registries are public, anyone can carry out the search. It can also be conducted by an attorney, who knows what similarities to look for. In Trama, we offer trademark search free of charge.