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Step 1

Choose a field to search

Tell TESS which type of information to search for.

Instructions

In a different tab or window, open TESS and click "basic word mark search (new user)."

Choose an option from the “field” drop down list:

  • Combined word mark - Search the English words used in all marks and the English translations of foreign words or characters in all marks.
  • Serial or registration number - Search by the seven-digit serial numbers of marks that have been applied for, or the eight-digit registration numbers of marks that have been registered.
  • Owner name and address - Search by owner name and address.
  • All - Search all fields.

TESS screenshot showing field dropdown menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help with this step 

 

What is a field?


A field is a type of information that can be associated with a mark. Every piece of information in TESS is categorized as one of these types.

Most information in TESS is entered automatically from your trademark application. For example, you fill out details like your name and address, your goods or services, and a description of your mark. All of these details go into your record and can be used to look up your application record in TESS.

The USPTO adds some other information in your application record. For example, when you submit your completed application, we assign it a serial number. Your serial number is part of your record as well, so it can also be used to search TESS for your mark.

Name, address, goods and services, mark description, and serial number are all examples of fields, or categories that each piece of information in the record falls into.   

Limitations of the basic word mark search option


Not all fields are available in this search option. There are many aspects of a mark that you can't search for. For example, you can't search for marks with a design or marks associated with specific goods or services. This means that in most cases, you cannot effectively use this option to search TESS as part of your clearance search.

If you’d like to use a different search option, instructions are linked below.   

Word and/or design mark search (structured) instructions – this option helps you construct and format your search criteria. 

Word and/or design mark search (free-form) instructions – this option is recommended for expert users only.

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Step 2

Choose your search term

Tell TESS what to look for in the field you chose.

Instructions

In the “search term” box, type your search term. 

TESS screenshot showing search term box

 

Help with this step

 

What is a search term?


A search term is the data TESS searches for in the field you choose. For example, to find all marks owned by a specific person, your search term would be the name of the person and you would search the “owner name” field.


Examples
 

  • To find all marks owned by people named Smith, use:
    • Search term: Smith
    • Field: Owner name and address
      Results would also include marks owned by companies that have “Smith” in their company name, and marks that have “Smith” in the owner’s address (for example, “Smith St”).
  • To find all marks owned by a person or company with an address on First St, use:
    • Search term: First
    • Field: Owner name and address
      Results would also include marks owned by a person or company with “first” anywhere in the address, and marks with “first” anywhere in the owner name. 
  •  To find all marks that use the word “first,” use:
    • Search term: First
    • Field: combined word mark

 

Refine your search term to see meaningful results.
 

Marks that sound like your mark — called phonetically equivalent marks — could create a likelihood of confusion for the consumer, so your search should include marks that:

  • are spelled the same way as your mark
  • are spelled differently but could sound the same as your mark when spoken, like “potato” and “potayto”
  • could sound the same as your mark if someone pronounces your mark differently, like “potato” and “potahto” 

You can broaden your search results to find phonetically equivalent marks by using special characters in place of letters and numbers in your search term. A technique called truncation uses question marks (?) and dollar signs ($), and one called pattern matching uses curly brackets ({}).


Question marks (?)

Use a question mark (?) to find all marks that match your search term with any character in place of the question mark. 

For example, “TMark?” will return:
TMarky
TMarki


Dollar signs ($)

Use a dollar sign ($) to find all marks that either match your search term exactly or match your search term with additional characters in place of the dollar sign. 

For example, “TM$rkey” will return:
TMarkey
TMaaarkey
TM4rkey


Curly brackets ({})

Use {A}, {C}, {V}, or {D} to find marks that match your search term but with a different type of character substituted.
{A} for any letter
{C} for consonants
{V} for vowels, including Y
{D} for digits (numbers)

For example, “TMark{V}y” will return:
TMarkey
TMarkiy

To find a specific number of characters, include a range of numbers inside the brackets.

For example, “TMark{V0:1}y” will return marks with up to one vowel in place of the brackets:
TMarkey
TMarkiy
TMarky

While “TMark{V0:2}y” will return marks with up to two vowels in place of the brackets:
TMarkeiy
TMarkiey
TMarkeey

To find specific characters, enter them in quotation marks inside the brackets. TESS will search for any combination of those characters. 

For example, TMark{“ckqx”1:2}{“u”0:1}ey would return:
TMarkey
TMarckey
TMarcxey
TMarquey
TMarcqey
TMarccuey

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Step 3

Choose what your results must contain

Instructions

If your search term is one word, skip this step. If your search term is more than one word, select an option from the drop down list: 

  • All search terms (AND) - Every word in your search term must appear in the field you chose for a mark to show up in your results. The words can appear in any order.
  • Any search terms (OR) - At least one word in your search term must appear in the field you chose for a mark to show up in your results.
  • The exact search phrase - The exact search term you entered must appear in the field you chose for a mark to show up in your results. The words must appear in the order you entered them.

TESS screenshot showing results must contain dropdown menu

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Step 4

Choose singular or plural, live or dead

Instructions

a. Choose plural and singular, or singular only.

“Plural and singular” returns both the plural and singular forms of your search term, while “singular” returns only the singular form of your search term.

b. Choose live and dead, live only, or dead only.

Choose “live only” if you are doing a clearance search. Only live marks can prevent your mark from registering if they cause a likelihood of confusion with your mark. Live marks are either registered or part of a pending application. 

TESS screenshot showing plural and singular, live and dead radio buttons

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Step 5

Submit

Instructions

Click “submit query” to search.

TESS screenshot showing submit query button

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Step 6

(Optional) Expand and filter your results

Combine your results from multiple searches to see more marks that are relevant or filter out marks that aren’t. 

Instructions

a. Choose two or more searches from the drop down box called “view your search history.” Your searches are labeled sequentially (S1 for the first search, S2 for the second search, an so on).

TESS screenshot showing view search history dropdown menu

b. In the search term box, enter your search labels (S1, S2, and so on) separated by a space.

TESS screenshot showing search term labels entered in search term box

c. Select “ALL” from the field drop down list.

d. Choose an option from the “results must contain” drop down list.

e. Click “submit query.”

 

Help with this step 


“All Search Terms (AND)” filters your search results to list only marks that came up in both searches.

“Any Search Terms (OR) expands your search results to list all marks that came up in either search. 


Example
 

You’re looking for all marks owned by Mark Trademan that include the word “T Markey.”

Your first search used the “combined word mark” field and the search term “markey.” This search returns all marks that use the word “markey.” It would be labeled “S1” in your search history.

Your second search used the “owner name and address” field and the search term “Trademan.” This search returns all marks that have “Trademan” in the owner name and address field. It would be labeled “S2” in your search history.

If you enter “S1 S2” as your search term and choose “All search terms (AND),” you get a list of marks that use the word “markey” and have “Trademan” in the owner name and address field. You may find marks owned by other people or companies named Trademan, or marks like “S Markey,” but the list will be manageable enough to view each result and find what you are looking for.  

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Step 7

View your results

Instructions

In the list of records, click on the “word mark” column to view the record of each mark. Focus on these details:

  • The mark at the top of the page
    Is the mark similar (in sound, appearance, meaning, or commercial impression) to yours?
  • Word mark (and translation if applicable)
    Is the wording similar to the wording in your mark?
  • Goods and services
    Are the goods and services similar or related to your goods and services? Don’t rely on the international class– goods and services in different international classes may still be related.  
  • Live/dead indicator
    Is the mark live?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, there may be a likelihood of confusion between your mark and the mark you are reviewing.  
 

What to do with this information

If you find a live mark that is similar to yours and is used on or in connection with goods or services that are related to your goods or services, consider changing your mark and doing a new clearance search. Otherwise, the USPTO may refuse to register your mark, or the owner of the other mark may take legal action if you apply for registration.

 

Where to get help

 

Interpreting your results can be complicated. There are many factors to consider in determining likelihood of confusion. We can’t advise you on how to do a clearance search for your mark, do one for you, or interpret your search results. However, a private trademark attorney can do all of these things and advise you throughout the application process. See why hire a private trademark attorney to learn more about what an attorney can do for you and how to find one.

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