Using the Trademark Electronic Search System

The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) is a database of every U.S. trademark that has been registered or applied for. Each record in TESS includes many important elements of the mark. Each element is a searchable piece of information. Searching TESS allows you to find:

  • Any marks that have common elements
  • A specific mark if you know one or more of its elements 

Choose your search option

Before you can search TESS, you must choose from three “search options,” or interfaces. They have different features, but all search our complete database. Choose your search option based on what you are searching for and your proficiency with TESS. 

Basic word mark search


Use this option if you are searching based only on the words in the mark, the serial number, the registration number, or the owner name.

  • Most straightforward
  • Most limited search option

You can’t to do a complete search with this option because most of TESS’s core functions and features aren’t available. 


Word and/or design mark search (structured)


Use this option if you are a novice TESS user.        

  • Has all the functions of the more advanced free-form search option
  • Helps you build your search

This option allows you to search in any field and helps you construct and format your search criteria.


Word and/or design mark search (free-form)


Use this option if you are an expert TESS user.

  • Most efficient search option for expert users
  • Requires you to set up your search



What to expect from a clearance search

Include other sources in your clearance search

Searching TESS is only one part of a thorough clearance search. There may be trademarks that are not in our database that have rights over yours. Check other sources, such as state trademark databases and the internet.

Registration is not guaranteed

We will carefully examine your application to see if your prospective trademark meets the requirements for federal registration. Although this includes doing our own database search, there are many considerations. We may find a conflicting trademark or another legal issue that bars your registration.

Private trademark attorneys

Deciding what to search and 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.

If you are an applicant domiciled in the United States, you may file a trademark application on your own. However, you may wish to consider hiring a U.S.-licensed attorney to advise you throughout the application process.

If you are a foreign-domiciled applicant, you must have a U.S.-licensed attorney represent you at the USPTO.

See why hire a private trademark attorney to learn more about what an attorney can do for you and how to find one.