How to Perform a Trademark Search
The scope and detail of each individual trademark search will vary widely based on the skill of your researcher and the resources allotted. For most people a simple “knockout” search of direct hits within the USPTO’s publicly available Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) is sufficient whereas others may require more extensive trademark searches both within and without the TESS database. Although a detailed instruction on how to efficiently and effectively perform your own trademark search falls outside the purpose of this informative description the following checklist should be useful:
- Identify your applied for mark;
- Identify the goods and services you wish to associate with your mark. The USPTO has provided a handy master list that can assist you;
- Search for any direct hits on your applied for mark within the TESS system;
- Search for any translations, transliterations, or phonetic equivalents to your applied for mark within the TESS system;
- If your mark includes a design element, search for appropriate design codes within the TESS system. The USPTO has provided a handy Design Search Code Manual to assist you;
- Identify which results, if any, from your searches above are associated with similar goods and services as your mark;
- Identify which results, if any, from your searches above were rejected by the USPTO as weak marks.
Keep in mind that a federal trademark search through TESS will only identify marks that are registered federally or applied to be registered federally. Therefore, if you have a competitor who is currently using the trademark without federal registration you may need to determine the strength and availability of your mark through other means, such as through Search Engine listings (e.g., Google) and 3rd party vendors (e.g., Amazon). If you have any questions about a trademark search, feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help.