A trademark is any name, word, phrase, logo, design or symbol that businesses and companies use to assign an identity or distinguishing feature for their goods or products, effectively setting them apart from those of other manufacturers or sellers. The trademark instantly brings about recognition to any customer that sees it. The moment they spot the trademark, they will be able to immediately identify what product it is and, more importantly for businesses, who made it. Essentially, the trademark is the brand name of a company.
It is good to conduct a trademark search before you adopt a mark. After conducting a preliminary trademark search and are comfortable with your findings. Below mentioned are the steps to conduct a Tradesearch;
- Bring-up the USPTO Trademark Search System: Start your Trademark search on the USPTO’s TESS( Trademark Electronic Search System) database. It is notable that the TESS system only allows so many people at a time to respond. If you wait too long between actions, you will be signed off, the system and you will have to start again.
- Select Word/Design mark search: That gives you the most flexibility select the option accordingly.
- Try the obvious first: Enter the mark in the search box, click on the submit query and see if you get a dead knockout right way.
- Make sure you are covering all the bases: When you are searching for trademark, remember that the standard in choosing a mark is “likelihood of confusion”. That is you are looking for the mark which might be confusingly similar to the mark you have chosen not just those which are identical to it.
- Expand the field of search: Once you feel that you have not your precise requirement, go a little further. Conduct Partial matches. If the word is multipart your first check would be the entire mark, but then try each part separately and in combination.
- Narrow the search to reduce distractions: Once you have got your search set your mark and its variation, you can try narrowing it down if there are an unusual number of hits. You will probably want to narrow your search to marks for goods and service which might be competitive with yours. This technique ha some validity but you should only do it if you cannot reduce the “hits”, to manageable numbers by focussing the search term first. The reason for this advice is that “famous” marks have a much broader range of protection than ordinary marks.
- Review the records you found: The TESS system will return a summary list of records found.
There are six columns on the page:
- The record number – the results page will list up to 50 records. If the search returned more than 50 records, you can get the next list by clicking the “next list” button at the top or bottom of the page.
- Serial number – this is the serial number of the application which resulted in the record
- Registration number – if the record is for a mark which was registered, the registration number will be listed here. Pending applications and those which were abandoned or successfully opposed before registration would have a blank in this column
- Word Mark – the word portion of the mark. This column would be blank for a pure design mark or some other mark which does not have a word component such as a color, scent, sound, etc.
- TARR – click on this to see the status list for the record, rather than the record itself
- Live/Dead – just that. “Live” if the record is for a pending application or registration which is still current; “Dead” if for an abandoned application or expired/canceled the registration.