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A step-by-step guide to conducting a trademark search.

1. 

Learn how to use the Trademark Electronic Search System.

1.1 

Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.

Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.

Before you dive in, you'll need to learn how the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) works. Start by navigating to uspto.gov/trademark.

1.2 

Locate the relevant instructions.

Locate the relevant instructions.

Under the "Search Trademarks" heading, you'll see an option that says "How to use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)." Click on this.

1.3 

Study the guidelines.

Study the guidelines.

You'll be taken to a page with links to helpful tips for starting your search. These include directions on how to use the basic word mark search function, how to perform a structured word and/or design mark search, and how to conduct a free-form word and/or design mark search. Read through this content.

2. 

Use the Trademark Electronic Search System.

2.1 
Navigate to the TESS.

Once you have reviewed the instructions, click the link on the same page to access the TESS. This is the federal trademark database. The system does not necessarily contain all trademark information, but it will display any federal records in relation to the trademark that you are seeking (if any exist).

2.2 

Select your search option.

Select your search option.

You'll be able to conduct a basic word mark search (recommended for new users), a structured word and/or design mark search, or a free-form word and/or design mark search.

Go back and study the relevant instructions if you get stuck along the way.

2.3 

Adjust the fields as necessary.

Adjust the fields as necessary.

Regardless of which type of search you conduct, you'll need to enter your search term(s). If you're a first-time user who's performing a basic search, you'll also need to indicate whether the results should include living and/or dead trademarks; whether the results should include singulars and plurals, or just the former; whether the results should contain any, all, or the exact search terms; and what other information should be displayed.

For example, entering "Google" into the TESS system will yield a page with a list of all trademarked names containing the word "Google."

2.4 

Comb through the results.

Comb through the results.

You'll want to see whether any trademarks exist. If there are no results for your search term, the screen will display a message that says "No TESS records were found to match the criteria of your query." In this case, you may want to repeat the search using a different term(s).

3. 

Check state records.

3.1 

Visit your Secretary of State's departmental website.

Visit your Secretary of State's departmental website.

The absence of a trademark in the federal TESS database does not necessarily mean that the trademark you want to secure is available. After you have checked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you should check state records.

Most of the time, records of a trademark at the state level are stored and managed by the Secretary of State. Navigate to your Secretary of State's departmental website for more information and to conduct an online search.

The Next Steps:

Despite your best efforts, you may land up overlooking an existing trademark. As such, we recommend enlisting the services of a licensed trademark attorney, who can perform these and other searches to confidently determine whether your chosen name is available.

Once you are sure that the trademark you are pursuing is in fact available, you can file a trademark application online.

How to Trademark a Name

Find out what you need to do to trademark your new business name.

FAQs:

You can search the federal database as well as state records for free. The latter instance usually entails visiting your Secretary of State's website.

How do I check a trademark status?

The federal Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) displays the status of each trademark in its search results. By selecting "TSDR" in the results window, you can view the filing status of a trademark and any associated documents.

Can I use a dead trademark?

Technically, you can use a dead trademark. However, another company may still be using it and could, therefore, take legal action against you on the grounds that they have common law rights to the name. Most experts do not recommend using a dead trademark.

What is a dead trademark?

A "dead" trademark is a trademark that was once active but has become inactive because it was either abandoned, had a lapsed registration, or was reassigned.

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Business Name Generator

Enter words related to your business to get started.