You may have heard about wild cards or truncation symbols used in a trademark search equation and slowly backed away from the keyboard after hearing those words. BOB is here to tell you to be not afraid. Wild cards can be very useful further refine your trademark search results.
Wild cards are symbols that represent space and non-space characters. In the case of BOB, the $ and ? are the truncation symbols used. The $ is used for unlimited characters whereas the ? is used for single characters. For example, if you want search for different spellings of LIGHT, then you could use the L$T. This would return LIGHT, LITE, or LYTE. However, it could also return words you are not interested in, for example, LOT or LATE.
You can use connectors to exclude words you are not interested in seeing through the NOT connector. In this example, the equation you would use is L$T NOT LOT OR LATE. On the Search Field page, BOB includes a helpful key for using wild card symbols, and you can see a wild card search using BOB by clicking HERE.
Additionally, wild cards are helpful when trying to find marks that share a similar element to your proposed mark. When you use the $ or ? at the beginning or end of a term, you are telling the software to look for marks that contain that term. For example, if you search for $LIGHT, you would be looking for marks containing another term that precedes LIGHT. Just focussing on the beer market as an example, that would mean finding BUD LIGHT, CORONA LIGHT, BECK’S LIGHT, and so on. Moving the wild card to the other side of the word tells the software to look for marks that begin with the word. And you can always use the wild card on both sides of the word.
You can see from these examples that flexibility wild cards provide to the trademark searcher. Depending on the mark you are searching, using wild cards can be helpful.