I feel silly mentioning that a free website isn't as good as an attorney who will research and file your claim. But if you see that someone already has a trademark on your name before you even launch, you can save a lot of headache.
Just visit the . Click the Search link on the right, then use one of the forms. I just entered my business name into the New User Form Search (Basic) and left those settings at default. Since the search came up empty, I have a good sense that once I'm ready to hire an attorney to file a trademark, I'll be the only one requesting protection of that name.
Zack Stern is building a new business from San Francisco, where he frequently contributes to PC World.