How to Search for a Trademark Registration

by A.L. Kennedy
Searching for a trademark registration is an important first step in registering a trademark.

Searching for a trademark registration is an important first step in registering a trademark.

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Before you fill out the applications and pay the fees to register a trademark, it's a wise idea to search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database to ensure that the trademark you have in mind hasn't already been registered by someone else. You can search for a trademark registration on the Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS.

How to Search for a Word Mark

Step 1

Access the Trademark Electronic Search System on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. You can search TESS in several different ways, depending on whether you are looking for a trademarked word or design -- and whether you are familiar with Boolean search terms or need more guidance.

Step 2

Choose either the "basic word mark search" or the "word and/or design mark search" option. If you are only searching for a word, the "basic word mark search" is a simple way to search the database. If you are searching for both a word and a design, or you want to search fields other than the mark itself, such as the owner name, serial number, or type of mark, use the "word and/or design mark search" option.

Step 3

Enter the search term for which you're looking. If you're using the "basic word mark search" form, enter the trademarked word or phrase in the "search" box. If you're using the "word and/or design mark search" option, enter the information for which you're looking in the "search" box along with the proper tag. A list of tags appears directly below the search box. Click "Submit Query" to search the database.

How to Search for a Design Mark

Step 1

Access the TESS database by going to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website; click on "search marks." Click the "design search code manual" link below the "word and/or design mark search" option to find the code for the design. You may wish to open the design search code manual in a separate browser window, so you can refer to it as you search.

Step 2

Click the "word and/or design mark search" link, then enter the design code in the "search" box. If you are using the structured form, choose "design code" from the drop-down menu to the right of the search box. If you are using the free form, use code "[DC]" before the design code in the search box.

Step 3

Click "Submit Query" to search the database. When you are finished, click "logout" to leave the TESS database. If you pause for several minutes while searching, the system may log you out automatically. If this happens, click the blue "Trademark" button in the upper left-hand corner to return to the main search screen.