A trademark is a unique symbol, phrase or word used to distinguish one brand of goods or services from another. Technically, a trademark is protected as soon as it is used to conduct business, although registering the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office provides additional advantages. In any case, a search of the agency’s Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS, can help to ensure a duplicate mark does not already exist.
Look up the appropriate design codes that apply to your trademark on the United States Patent and Trademark Office's online Design Search Code Manual. Note that this step is necessary only if your mark contains design elements. If your mark is a standard character format -- a word or phrase that does not use a specific lettering style, spelling, font or other design elements -- you can skip this step.
Launch the TESS database at the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to choose your search options based on the format that applies to your mark. For standard character format, select “Basic Word Mark Search.” If your mark includes design elements, select the “Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured)” option.
Enter your trademark word or phrase in the “Search Term” field and click on “Submit Query.” This action takes you to another page that contains a list of trademarks that match or are similar to yours, if any.
Click on the trademarks in the list to see more details, such as registration number, filing date and the name of the owner of the trademark.