There are three choices available for searching: Basic Word Mark Search (New User)
| Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured) | Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free
Form) | . If you are not familiar with the system, you may want to start on a Basic
Word Mark Search. See TESS page below for the ‘Select a Search Option ‘. See Published
for Opposition search instructions for specific search instructions on how to use
TESS for searching for marks that have been published for opposition.
What is in TESS? The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) contains the records
of active (LIVE) and inactive (DEAD) trademark registrations and applications for
both the Principal Register and the Supplemental Register. Active or LIVE marks may
be used by the USPTO examining attorney to determine that a "likelihood of confusion"
exists. Inactive or DEAD marks may still be in use by the original applicants who
may have not registered or renewed their marks or the marks may be abandoned.
Whether or not a likelihood of confusion exists is dependent on the goods/services
identifications, a good search followed by a good strategic identification of goods/services
may avoid a likelihood of confusion refusal. Direct hit or dead-on searching may
give false assurances as to trademark clearance.
What is NOT in TESS? Common Law Trademarks. Some trademark owners with valid and
protected trademark rights (common law rights acquired by use) do not choose to register
their marks with the USPTO, so those marks will not be found in TESS. However, you
should still consider these other marks when adopting a mark for your goods and/or
services. If a trademark is being used in the United States, the owner may have
legally protected rights that are not the result of the USPTO registration process.
To maximize the commercial strength and minimize the weaknesses of a trademark,
Not Just Patents ® recommends using our Five Step Verification. Our verification
service also searches common law marks, verifies distinctiveness, looks at registerability
and other issues to supplement doing a quick search on TESS.
Why should I perform a search? One purpose of a trademark search is to help determine
whether a “likelihood of confusion” exists, i.e., whether any mark has already been
registered or applied for at the USPTO that is (1) the same OR similar to your mark;
and (2) used on related products or for related services. Note that the identical
mark could possibly be registered to different parties if the goods and/or services
are in no way related, e.g., for computers and soft drinks. Note: The USPTO does
not refund your application fee if registration of your mark is refused. Many product
launches run into severe problems when trademarks are refused for likelihood of confusion,
mere descriptiveness or for other reasons: gambling on results may not be a great
strategy. Commercial strength and the ability to do well on a search engine search
are vital aspects of a trademark strength. Not Just Patents ® recommends using our
Five Step Verification rather than just doing a quick search on TESS. But a quick
search on TESS is a good place to start.
Will my mark register if I do not find anything in TESS? No, not necessarily. USPTO
trademark examiners (attorneys) make decisions on whether marks may be registered
on more than just a lack of “likelihood of confusion.” After you file your application,
the USPTO will conduct its own search and other review, and might refuse your mark,
based on several different possible grounds for refusal. Once you submit your application,
the USPTO will not cancel the filing or refund your fee, unless the application fails
to satisfy minimum filing requirements.
Filing an application does not guarantee registration and registration does not guarantee
safety from lawsuits or other legal proceedings since a USPTO registration is only
based on conflicts with other USPTO marks not with conflicts with common law marks.
Statistically few trademarks are canceled each year and the number of cancellation
proceedings on registered marks is quite low. In Fiscal Year 2011, just 1298 cancellation
proceedings were disposed of and only 23 as a result of a Board decision (2%) while
there were 177,661 registration certificates issued in 2011 and 237,586 registrations
including additional classes. The number of trademarks opposed is statistically low
as well, 4982 trademarks proceedings were completed in 2011 with just 98 by Board
How should I search? The following are search principles that USPTO examiners use
when searching to see if new applications will have a likelihood of confusion with
already pending or registered marks. Note that this search method goes well beyond
direct hit searching. Note that searching just TESS will not reveal if there are
unregistered trademark owners using any particular mark and that these principles
are employed by trademark examiners that are already familiar with trademark law
and the meanings of terms such as “distinctive element” and “legal equivalent.”
[Trademark] Search Principles [TESS or other databases]
Following are the likelihood of confusion search principles used by the USPTO that
you may want to consider prior to submitting a trademark application. You must decide
which of these search principles may be appropriate for your trademark search. Even
if you diligently follow all these search principles, that does not necessarily guarantee
that you will find all potential citations under Section 2(d) of the Trademark Act.
Conduct a Thorough Search.
Search All Forms of all the Distinctive Elements of the Mark.
Search Each Distinctive Element Alone.
Search Acronyms AND What They Stand For.
Search All the Legal Word Equivalents of Terms.
Search Component Parts of Individual Terms When Necessary.
Searches for Marks Consisting of Two or More Separate Terms Should be Conducted
so that the Two Terms Would be Retrieved Whether They Run Together or are Separate.
Search Pictorial Equivalents for Distinctive Terms and Vice Versa When Appropriate.
Search all Phonetic Equivalents
Search all English Equivalents
U.S. Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual (ID Manual)
MANUAL HELP: SEARCHING FIELDS
When the electronic ID Manual opens, the Search selection box shows the All Fields
search field as the default field. You can use the selection arrow to choose a specific
field in which to conduct your search. If you do not make a selection, the All Fields
search field will be automatically selected as the search field.
ALL FIELDS searches for all goods and services in which the search term appears.
ALL FIELDS permits you to build search queries that access the other available search
fields. By tagging search terms with the appropriate field tag and utilizing Boolean
Operators, you are able to search across multiple fields when using the ALL FIELDS
Descriptive term: A query for a word will retrieve all records containing that word.
For example, a search for dog will retrieve all records containing dog or dogs
Class numbers: A query for a class number retrieves all goods and services in that
For example, a query for “012” retrieves all goods in class 12. Note: class must
be entered in three (3) digits and should be enclosed in double quotes. If you enter
a descriptive term – such as golf and “012” (for the class), it will find goods in
International Class 12 in which golf is a part of the identification.
In ALL FIELDS, you may conduct a more complex search by entering the appropriate
search terms, field tags, and Boolean operators.
For example, a query for (automobile[DE] and s[GS]) not 037[IC] retrieves all services
concerning automobiles other than the repair-type services in International Class
The system automatically searches for the plural or singular form of the search term.
A possessive is treated as a plural form.
A query for dog retrieves all records containing dog and dogs. A query for dogs finds
all records containing dogs and dog.
A query for glass finds all records containing glass and glasses. A query for glasses
finds all records containing glasses and glass.
The system also searches for special plural forms such as knives and mice. The rules
are the same as those applied in the X-Search application. For a full explanation,
see the X-Search Help menu.
GOODS/SERVICES (G/S) allows a search for the type of entry, e.g., goods or services
by using S or G.
For example, a query for S retrieves all services.
A query for G retrieves all goods.
CLASS searches for all goods in a particular International Class.
The class number must be entered as three digits enclosed in double quotes, e.g.,
DESCRIPTION searches for goods and services containing the searched term(s).
For example, a query for computer retrieves all goods and services containing computer
A query for computer and program retrieves all goods and services containing computer(s)
STATUS (A/D/M) searches for an entry that has been ADOPTED, DELETED, or MODIFIED,
DATE (YYYYMMDD) searches for an entry that has been adopted, deleted, or modified
on a particular date. A specific date must be entered.
BOOLEAN OPERATORS IN ID MANUALSEARCHING
AND, &, space
The AND operator may be a single space, the ampersand (&), or the word ‘and’. For
example, the three queries below would find the same information:
Golf & Clubs
Golf and Clubs
The AND, &, or space query operators require that both words on either side of the
operator appear in the same record. If only one of the words is found in a record,
the record is not a hit. For example, a query for Golf and Clubs finds all records
which contains both Golf(s) and Club(s). If a record contains Golf(s) but not Club(s),
then the record is not a hit. Similarly, if a record contains Club(s) but not Golf(s),
then the record is not a hit.
The only OR operator is the word or.
The OR query operator requires that at least one of the words on either side of the
operator appears in a record.
For example, a query for Golf or Clubs finds all records which contain Golf(s) or
which contain Club(s) or which contain both Golf(s) and Club(s). If a record contains
neither Golf(s) or Club(s), then the record is not a hit.
The NOT operator is the word not. The caret (^) is not functional in this application.
The NOT operator may be used between two words. This will find all records containing
the first word but which do not contain the second. For example, a query for Golf
not Clubs finds all records which contain Golf(s) and which do not contain Club(s).
The NOT operator excludes records containing the word following the operator. It
requires that the word following the operator not be in a record for that record
to be counted as a hit.
For example, a query for not Golf finds all records which do not have Golf. If a
record contains Golf, then the record is not a hit.
A query for Golf not Clubs retrieves all records containing golf or golfs, but not
A query for Golf not "028" retrieves all records in which the word golf or golfs
appear, except for those in International Class 28.
XOR (Exclusive Or)
The XOR (exclusive or) operator is the letter xor. The tilde (~) is not operational.
The XOR requires that one of the words on either side of the operator appears in
a record, but not both.
For example, Golf xor Clubs finds all records which contain Golf(s) but not Club(s)
or which contain Club(s) but not Golf(s). If a record contains both Golf(s) and Club(s),
then the record is not a hit.
SUBMIT QUERY, REFINE SEARCH
Submit Query Button
Initiates the search of the query item.
Can also be initiated by pressing Enter.
When the initial search retrieves a hit list, a box above the hit list allows you
to refine your search. The initial query is displayed in the box and this can either
be changed or deleted to initiate a new query. Contrary to the implication of its
name, the resultant search is conducted in the entire database and not just within
the prior results.
Clears the query field.
TRUNCATION AND OTHER FEATURES
The system uses the BRS search engine dollar sign $ for an unlimited number of additional
characters truncation search.
For example, a query for flo$ will retrieve flower, flowers, floor, flow, etc.
What is Verifying a Trademark and Why Verify a Trademark? There are many different
definitions for verifying a trademark. Some believe that it involves a mechanical
quick search of USPTO records to look for direct hits (some call this a clearance
search). Some would expand the mechanical USPTO search to look for some ‘similar’
trademarks. Some would expand the search to include common law trademarks. When the
clearance process is entirely mechanical and only looks for direct hits, minimal
information is obtained. There are lots of questions that should be asked and more
than direct hits should be analyzed. A plan for a strong trademark is one that includes
answers to trademark issues like:
Can I claim clear exclusive rights to use this trademark? Does it sound, look or
have the same connotation as someone else’s? Can someone can pick out my result on
a search page or is it confused with others that appear very similar?
Will my trademark be a clear leader or will search results be far off the first page
for Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.? (A direct hit clearance search will not tell you that
the mark has common parts that will confuse search engines and put your result after
the thousands or millions of other uses of the words)
Does this trademark meet the qualifications for being registered on the USPTO Principal
Register? (A direct hit clearance search will not tell you this) Can I record this
mark with Customs and Border Protection?
Is this trademark strong enough that others would want to license it from me? (A
direct hit clearance search will not tell you this)
Does this trademark have potential to extend to other product lines? Can it become
the first in a family of marks? (A direct hit clearance search will not tell you
Are there other users of this trademark that could prevent me from using this mark
or would sue me or prevent me from getting federal registration because they can
prove they are prior users? (A direct hit clearance search will not tell you this)
Are there valid reasons for someone to oppose or cancel this trademark because the
mark doesn’t qualify for protection or because they have superior rights? (A direct
hit clearance search will not tell you this)
Would the USPTO find a likelihood of confusion with someone else’s registered or
pending trademark and prevent my registration of this mark? (A direct hit clearance
search will not tell you this)
Would a court enforce the use of this trademark? (A direct hit clearance search will
not tell you this)
Do I have to somehow acquire distinctiveness for this mark before it would be recognized
as being protectable? (A direct hit clearance search will not tell you this)
Does this mark use such common terms that it would be called a weak trademark? (A
direct hit clearance search will not tell you this)
Is this mark descriptive or deceptive or geographically descriptive and would it
be refused because of this? (A direct hit clearance search will not tell you this)
Do I use the mark in a way that increases my rights or am I using it in a way where
it does not function as a trademark? (A direct hit clearance search will not tell
Call Not Just Patents at (651) 500-7590. We can help you answer these questions and
register a Strong Trademark that will be easier to enforce and will be better for
licensing and investors.
Call: 1-651-500-7590 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This site is for informational
purposes only and is provided without warranties, express or implied, regarding the
information's accuracy, timeliness, or completeness and does not constitute legal
advice. No attorney/client relationship exists without a written contract between
Not Just Patents LLC and its client. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Call 1-651-500-7590 or email email@example.com or ContactTrademark.com for
Responses to Office Actions; File or Defend an Opposition or Cancellation; Patent
or Trademark Searches and Applications; Send or Respond to Cease and Desist Letters.
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