Step-by-step instructions for searching using the word and/or design mark search (free-form) option
Step 1: Choose a field to search
Tell TESS which type of information to search for.
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.
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.
If your mark includes a design element, you must search using a design search code. See our Get ready to search page to learn how classification and design search codes help you search TESS and how to look up the classes and design search codes that apply to your trademark.
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.
Step 2: Choose your search term
Step 3: (Optional) Add more search criteria
Add more search strings and connect them with operators.
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.
Step 4: Choose “yes” or “no” from the plurals drop down box
“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.
Step 5: Submit
Click “submit query” to search.
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.
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.).
b. Enter your search labels (S1, S2 and so on) in the search term box with an operator between each label
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.
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.
Step 7: View your results
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 U.S.-licensed 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.