Where Can I Search for Registered and Pending USPTO Trademarks?

A US trademark search TESS is the easiest method of finding out what trademarks have been registered or are pending with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. TESS stands for Trademark Electronic Search System, and it is one of the most effective tools for searching for trademarks and viewing trademark images.

When you use TESS, you will have three search options:

  • Basic Word Mark Search (New User)
  • Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured)
  • Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form)

Using a Basic Word Mark Search is the best choice for people who are not familiar with the searching system.

First, you will need to visit the USPTO website. Once you're there, you should see a column marked “Trademarks” on the left side of the page. Click the option in this column labeled “Search Trademark Database.” Second, on the trademark database search page, you will need to find the “Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)” heading, which should be a quarter of the way down the page. Click this heading to navigate to the input field.

After you're sure that your search terms have revealed the right information, you need to examine the individual trademark registrations on the page. You will see columns labeled with terms such as “Registration Number” and “Serial Number.”

With a federal trademark search, you will be able to find pending and registered trademarks in the USPTO database. Federal trademark searches are a good choice for business because they are cost-effective and provide enough information to decide if a trademark can be registered.

To view all information about a trademark, click the trademark that is highlighted below Word Mark. You can tell whether a trademark is active by checking the “live/dead” indicator. If a trademark has been registered with an image, this image will be displayed. Clicking on TARR (Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval) will provide you with further information on the current status of a trademark.

What is in TESS?

While searching TESS, you will be able to find information about active and inactive trademarks, including applications and registrations. If an examining attorney is still trying to determine if a “likelihood of confusion” exists, the active or LIVE designation may be used.

If a trademark is marked inactive or DEAD, then it may mean the mark has been abandoned. However, the original applicant may still be using the mark and may also possess common law rights. You should remember that only federal trademark registrations and applications are covered by the USPTO database.

While TESS is a valuable resource, you should not consider it a replacement for the help you can receive from a knowledgeable trademark attorney.

What Is Not in TESS?

Not every trademark owner chooses to register their mark with the USPTO. You will not be able to find these trademarks using TESS. However, just because these marks aren't in the USPTO database, they should still be considered when you are developing your own mark.

Trademarks that are used in the United States may be legally protected even if they have not been registered with the USPTO. It is possible for the owner of a common law trademark to exert their rights by requesting a USPTO cancellation or opposition hearing. Civil and criminal claims can also be used to enforce common law trademark rights. If you're not sure that TESS is providing you with adequate information, you can reference Not Just Patents.

Information that you will not find in the USPTO database includes:

  • Common law marks
  • Domain names
  • State trademark registrations
  • Trade names

A TESS search will not provide you with comprehensive results for federal trademarks, which means you should not rely on these results when choosing your own mark.

Why Should I Perform a Search?

The main reason to perform a US trademark search TESS is finding out if there is a “likelihood of confusion” related to your desired mark. Likelihood of confusion occurs when there is a mark registered with the USPTO that is similar to your mark and is used to identify goods or services that are close to your own. It's possible for identical marks to be used by companies that provide completely different services.

If you find a mark that may prevent you from registering your trademark and file your application anyway, you will not be able to get a refund for your fee if your application is rejected.

If you need help performing a US trademark search TESS, you can post your legal needs 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, Stripe, and Twilio.