A Texas trademark search looks for a design, phrase, symbol, or a word that distinguishes and identifies the company or organization that creates and markets an item or product and sets it apart from the offerings of another organization making similar products or offering similar products.

Service Marks

A service mark is a type of trademark that specifically identifies a specific service instead of a product. Trademark, service mark, and mark are almost interchangeable and are all simply terms that refer to forms of trademarks and service marks. Service marks are mainly used as a way to advertise a company's services, while a trademark that's used in marketing merchandise is likely to be featured on the package as well as in advertisements.

How Trademarks Differ from Patents and Copyrights

Trademark protection differs from patent protection and copyright protection because patent protection covers the invention of the product itself and copyright protection covers original artwork and works of literature. All 50 states in the U.S. recognize the validity of Federal trademark protection that has been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). States also issue trademarks to businesses.

An extensive amount of trademark information is published by the USPTO, including:

  • USPTO Design Search Code Manual: Any trademark that features a design element like a logo or graphic needs to be searched in the Design Search Code Manual to be sure it isn't a duplication of an already trademarked design.
  • Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS): The TESS database helps companies avoid confusion refusal when applying for a trademark. TESS is a search engine you can use to sift through registered trademarks and prior pending applications for similar marks that could halt your application.
  • Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS): The TEAS system is an online filing system used for filing for trademarks over the internet.

The search for an existing trademark starts at the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, uspto.gov. Call the Secretary of State or visit their website to find out how to search the trademarks that are registered with the state.

Steps to Do a Trademark Search Within the State

The steps to search within the state are:

  1. Create an account and log in.
  2. Conduct a search that includes all of the trademarks that have been Federally registered.
  3. Click the Trademarks tab.
  4. In the bulleted list labeled Tools, choose Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS.
  5. Fill out the search form.
  6. Do the registered trademark search by clicking Submit.
  7. The Texas Secretary of State website asks the user to fill out a registration form and use a credit card to pay a one-dollar fee to search the database for trademarks registered with the state.

Visit a fee-based trademark search like the Thomson SAEGIS database to do a global trademark search. After registering and paying the fee, perform a search in the global database. Perform a cross-referencing check to make sure your desired mark isn't already in use by a similar product so it won't be mixed up with one from another business.

Using ICANN to Search for Similar Logos

ICANN is the accrediting agency that handles international domain name registrations. Create an account and log in to search through lists of accredited domain name registrars looking for registered domain names similar to your own company name. Visit similar sites to check for similar logos to make sure yours is in no way similar to them.

Searching the Internet

Most patent and trademarking information is published electronically today. This makes it easier to find by searching the internet. There is an electronic network connecting over 80 libraries across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The libraries include academic, state, and public ones as well as special libraries. Six of these PTRCs are based in Texas, including one provided by the library system of Texas A&M University.

Patience Is Required

Getting a trademark is a slow process, taking between ten and 16 months. Even while you're waiting for approval, though, your mark is protected because your application shows up in the trademark searches others perform. This serves as notification for them that your trademark has been claimed, and that's typically all that's required to stop people from using your mark. This delivers the results you get from the actual registration even though it's pending for several months.

If you need help with a Texas trademark search, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.