WIPO AI-Based Brand Search Database

On the 1st of April, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) announced the launch of its new artificial intelligence (AI)-based image search tool for searching trade marks and brands.

This new tool makes it even easier for small business owners to make meaningful trade mark searches, for example, to determine the registrability of a new mark and to make strategic decisions about expanding their brand into new markets and geographies.

The AI search technology has been integrated into the WIPO Global Brand Database, which is available for free at this link:


There are also useful video tutorials on this page to help you get started.


Principles of Trademark Identity and Similarity

The purpose of a trade mark is to act as a “badge of origin”, distinguishing your goods and services from those of other businesses within your industry.  They serve to minimise consumer confusion and protect the consumer from deception.

Two of the tests which may lead to the refusal or successful opposition of a registered trade mark are whether the signs are identical or are similar to other existing marks.

An identical mark reproduces, without any modification or addition, all the elements that make up another mark.  When viewed in their entirety, any differences between the two marks would go unnoticed by the average consumer, such that they are effectively indistinguishable.

Marks are considered similar when, based upon the overall impression they give, their visual, aural and conceptual features are such that there is a high chance that the average consumer would be confused by the two marks.  They would unable to easily distinguish which mark was which, and hence which business or brand was associated with either of the two marks.

A trade mark search can help begin to address these questions.  When appropriately placed in the context of the relevant goods and services your business intends to operate in, as well as the goods and services of the owners of the marks your search finds, it can help ensure a suitable mark is chosen that is distinctive for your business.


Benefits of the New Search System

Image search technology has progressed massively over recent years and utilises a variety of methods to find and retrieve images.  These include text-based indexing of filenames and metadata, as well as basic image analysis.

Within the trade mark searching space, previous image search engines would often determine similarity between trade mark images by identifying and comparing factual parameters such as shapes and colours.

Artificial intelligence takes this type of image search to a new level.  AI is developing rapidly and becoming more and more engrained in every aspect of life, society and business, in areas as diverse as healthcare, retail, manufacturing and sport.  WIPO is now applying AI to many of their offerings, including trade mark searching.

In their brand search database, WIPO’s new AI-based technology improves on existing image search technology by using deep machine learning to identify combinations of concepts, rather than relying solely upon the more factual aspects of an image.

The result is a search engine that greatly improves the ability of individuals and businesses to conduct effective, basic trade mark searches as part of their brand development and marketing strategies.

Alistair Curson



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New Zealand Trade Marks Act 2002, s25. Retrieved May 11, 2019, from: http://legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2002/0049/latest/DLM164474.html

Sabel BV v Puma AG, Rudolf Dassler Sport [1998] RPC 199.

SAS. “Artificial Intelligence: What It Is and Why It Matters”. Retrieved May 12, 2019, from: https://www.sas.com/en_nz/insights/analytics/what-is-artificial-intelligence.html

Si S. (2019, March 23). “The Best Visual Search Engines You Can Use On Your Browser”. Retrieved May 12, 2019, from: https://seo-hacker.com/visual-search-engines-browser/

Smith M. (2012, January 12). “How Image Search Engines Work”. Retrieved May 12, 2019, from: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/image-search-engines-work-makeuseof-explains/

United Kingdom Trade Marks Act 1994, s5. Retrieved May 11, 2019, from: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/26/section/5

World Intellectual Property Organisation. (2019, April 01). “WIPO Launches State-of-the-Art Artificial Intelligence-Based Image Search Tool for Brands”. Retrieved May 10, 2019, from: https://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2019/article_0005.html


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