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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 "word and/or design mark search (free-form)."

Find the field code for the field you want to search. The field code is the two-letter abbreviation in brackets to the left of the name of the field.

TESS screenshot showing field codes

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 look up your application record in TESS.

The USPTO also adds some other information in your 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 application record.

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


What to search for

If you are searching TESS as part of a clearance search, look for marks that look or sound similar to yours or have a similar meaning. Then, see if any of those marks are used with related goods or services. Identifying these marks before you apply is important because a likelihood of confusion would prevent your mark from being registered. See our likelihood of confusion page or watch our “searching” video for more information and examples.


Common fields to for clearance searches

Fields to find trademarks with similar words:

  • Basic Index - searches the English words used in all marks
  • Translation Index - searches the English translations of  foreign words or characters in all marks

Fields to find trademarks with similar goods or services:

  • International class - searches the international classes of the goods or services associated with all marks
  • Coordinated class - searches the coordinated classes of the goods or services associated with all marks

Fields to find trademarks with similar designs:

  • Design search code - searches the design search codes of the significant design elements of all marks

Fields to find trademarks that will prevent your mark from registering if there is a likelihood of confusion:

  • Live/dead - searches the status of all marks. The status is “Live” if the mark is registered or in a pending application, or “dead” if the mark is no longer registered and not pending registration.

 

See a list of all fields

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Step 2

Choose your search term

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

Instructions

a. In the “search term” box, type your search term.
b. Immediately after your search term, enter your field code between two brackets. There should be no spaces between your search term and the first bracket. You can search the same search term in multiple fields by using both field codes in the same set of brackets, separated by a comma.

TESS screenshot showing search term box with search term and field code

 

 

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 for clearance searches


To find trademarks with similar words

Field

Example search term and results

Basic Index
Searches the English words used in all marks

Search term: Quick
Results: list of all marks that include the word quick

Translation Index
Searches the English translation of foreign words or characters in all marks.

Search term: Quick
Results: list of all marks that include a foreign word that translates to quick


To find trademarks with similar goods or services

Field

Example search term and results

International class
Searches international classes of the goods and services in all application and registrations

Search term: 004
Results: list of all marks used on goods in international class 4

Coordinated class
Searches coordinated classes of the goods and services in all applications and registrations

Search term: 005
Results: list of all marks used on goods in international class 5 or any coordinated class

To find trademarks with similar designs

Field

Example search term and results

Design search code
Searches design search codes of the significant design elements of all marks

Search term: 010103
Results: list of all marks that include a star with five points

To find trademarks that will prevent your mark from registering if there is a likelihood of confusion between the two

Field

Search term example

Live/dead
Searches the status of all marks

Search term: live
Results: list of all marks that are registered or in a pending application

 

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 (?) dollar signs ($), and asterisks (*) 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

 

Asterisks (*)
 

For the basic index and translation index fields, you can use an asterisk (*) at the beginning or end of your search term, or both.\

Use an asterisk to find all marks that either match your search term exactly or match your search term with additional characters in place of the asterisk.

For example, “*mark” will return:
Mark
TMark
Trademark

While “mark*” will return:
Mark
Marking
Marked

To use truncation at the beginning and the end of your search term, asterisks are fastest and result in fewer errors than dollar signs.

For example, “*mark*” will return:
Mark
Marking
Trademark
Trademarked
Supermarket
 

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

(Optional) Add more search criteria

Instructions

Add more search strings and connect them with operators.

TESS screenshot showing search term box with multiple search strings

Help with this step


What is a search string?

A search string is a combination of a search term and a field.
 

Combining search strings

Combining two search strings with an operator can help you expand your results to see more marks that are relevant, or filter your results so you don’t see marks that aren’t relevant.

The most common operators are “or,” “and,” and “not.” 

  • “OR” expands your search results to list all marks that match either search string.
  • “AND” filters your search results to list only marks that match both search strings.
  • “NOT” filters your search results to list only marks that match the first search string but not the second.
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Step 4

Choose “yes” or “no” from the plurals drop down box

Instructions

“Yes” returns both the singular and plural forms of your search term, while “no” returns only the singular form of your search term.

Choose “no” if you are using truncation or pattern matching in any of your search terms.

TESS screenshot showing plurals dropdown menu

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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, etc.).

TESS screenshot showing view search history dropdown menu

b. Enter your search labels (S1, S2 and so on) in the search term box with an operator between each label

TESS screenshot showing search term labels entered in search term box

c. Click “submit query”

 

 

 

Help with this step


Combining multiple searches  with operators can help you expand your results to see more marks that are relevant, or filter them so you don’t see marks that aren’t relevant. This is similar to adding more search criteria in step 3.

  • “OR” expands your search results to list all marks that came up in either search.
  • “AND” filters your search results to list only marks that came up in both searches.
  • “NOT” filters your search results to list only marks that came up in the first search but not the second.
     

Example
 

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

Your first search used the “basic index” 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 and S2,” 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 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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