WIPO Launches Visual Search of Key Database

In what may well be the first action of its kind, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) unveiled earlier this month a visual search interface for its Global Brand Database. The new interface is designed to make it possible for users to look for trademarks by their visual appearance.

The new UI can be approached in two ways: by providing an example or by selecting visual criteria.

If a search reveals a trademark or brand that has some visual characteristics in common with one for which a user is searching, the user can tell the database to use that visual as an example for searching the entire database. Similarly, the user may simply upload a graphic image — perhaps a draft design of its own logo or brand identifier — and ask the database to look for those with similarities.

Alternatively, the user can choose to provide a profile of the characteristics — shape(s), color, typography — and ask the database to produce a list of all trademarked and branded images that meet those criteria.

In its announcement of the new search technique, WIPO said, “The new, easy-to-use image-search technology supplements the database’s other querying criteria, including Vienna Classification codes, brand-holder names, country of origin and others.”

This new interface should open this important database of nearly 13 million records, including 4 million containing visual entries, to a much broader audience of users. This in turn has the potential to save money and time when a company is searching for a new brand identity that it can use internationally without fear of trademark violation.