Conduct A Trademark Search

Conduct A Trademark Search

How to Conduct a Trademark Search

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is responsible for maintaining a database of all registered trademarks in the United States. Performing a trademark search of its database is not a very difficult procedure, but it is helpful to have some background knowledge and have an idea as to what you should be looking for when you begin the trademark search and registration process. Knowing a little bit about why a particular mark may or may not be registered and a little bit about the language used by the USPTO will be extremely useful when performing a search.

Preliminary Trademark Search Considerations:

First identify how the USPTO characterizes your good or service in the U.S., which can be done by search the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual. Once you have properly identified your goods or services, you can determine the proper international class for your product, visible on the same page as the acceptable identification. This will assist you in both the search process and the registration, which will follow.

United States Marks:

The USPTO’s trademark database is searchable through the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). TESS uses a fairly straightforward interface and is not too challenging once you’ve familiarized yourself with some basic terminology. If any terms are confusing, then simply check the USPTO’s condensed glossary.

International Marks:

The World Intellectual Property Organization offers a fantastic resource for searching global trademark filings. You will definitely want to conduct a search through the Global Brand Database if there is a possibility that you will be offering your goods or services outside of the United States.

Considerations for your search:

Consider different brand names and have an alternative in mind if your mark is already taken. Be sure to try alternative spellings and homonyms to make sure there isn’t a high likelihood of confusion between your mark and someone else’s mark. You will also want to try synonyms or words similar to your mark to confirm that your mark is a unique identifier for your product or business.

Remember that even if it appears that the mark you’d like to register is available, the USPTO may still refuse registration for a number of reasons. For more insight into why the USPTO may refuse to register a trademark, visit our article on the topic.

Authors: Paul Mayo and Andrew Harris

Andrew Harris is an attorney in Portland, Oregon and he wrote this article about how to conduct a trademark search.

Learn More

If you need assistance with a particular legal issue affecting your business, particularly in establishing a trademark, please contact us and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.