Conducting a Domain Clearance
Checking the history and backlink profile of a domain should be the first step before purchasing a domain followed by investigating the trademark status of a domain. I’m putting it first because checking the domain history is fast so you are wasting less time if the result is something you don’t want to fool with.
The first step is to check a cache service such as Way Back Machine that captures still images of websites at various points in time. Typically it is best on homepages, but it will frequently have interior pages as well. Really you just want to exclude notably spammy uses such as porn, steroids, or make money type sites.
Ideally, you’d see a well done professional site. This would give the site some potential for aging benefits and positive SEO effects. It’s not a big deal at the current time so I wouldn’t stress about this. If you want an aged domain with links then you will need to accept a limited number of choices in terms of the name. I would mainly be concerned with potential negatives.
I would log any former uses and save the screen shots for your trademark search.
Second is to check the backlink profile of the domain. If the backlink profile is clean then the site is still probably safe to use, though if you have any doubts I would check with an SEO service. I would check Open Site Explorer and Majestic, which currently offer limited free services. You just type the domain in both sites and you’ll either see low scores at the top or no result returned, which are both what you are looking for. If you want to be really careful there are lots of sellers of full paid reports from these serviceson fiverr.
If you decide to continue on with checking out the name then I would next investigate the potential trademark status of the name which is a more complicated area.