How to Search USPTO Trademarks Effectively

As an entrepreneur or business owner, protecting your brand identity and intellectual property is crucial to the success of your business. One way to do this is by registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). However, before you can opt for trademark registration services, it is important to conduct a trademark search to ensure that your proposed trademark is not already in use.

Conducting a USPTO trademark search can be a complex process, but it is essential to avoid legal disputes, costly lawsuits, and loss of reputation. In this blog, we will guide you through the steps of conducting an accurate and efficient USPTO trademark search.

Step 1: Understand the Types of Trademark Searches

Before you start your USPTO trademark search, it is important to understand the different types of trademark searches available. There are two types of trademark searches: preliminary searches and comprehensive searches.

Preliminary searches are informal searches that you can conduct on your own or with the help of a trademark attorney. These searches involve searching the USPTO’s online database, Google, and other search engines to determine if your proposed trademark is already in use. Preliminary searches are not a substitute for a comprehensive search, but they can provide a general idea of whether your proposed trademark is likely to be approved for registration.

Comprehensive searches are more thorough and are usually conducted by a trademark attorney or a professional search company. These searches involve searching multiple databases, including the USPTO’s database, state trademark databases, domain name registrations, business directories, and social media platforms. Comprehensive searches can help you identify potential conflicts and assess the strength of your proposed trademark.

Step 2: Determine the Search Criteria

The next step in conducting a USPTO trademark search is to determine the search criteria. This involves identifying the elements of your proposed trademark that you want to search for. For example, if your proposed trademark is a word mark, you may want to search for exact matches, similar matches, or phonetically similar matches. If your proposed trademark is a design mark, you may want to search for similar designs or designs with similar elements.

It is also important to determine the classes of goods and services associated with your proposed trademark. The USPTO uses a system of classes to categorize goods and services for trademark registration purposes. It is essential to identify the correct classes to ensure that your trademark is registered for the correct goods and services.

Step 3: Conduct a Basic Search on TESS

The USPTO’s online database, called the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), is the primary tool for conducting a USPTO trademark search. TESS allows you to search for trademarks that are registered, pending, or abandoned.

To conduct a basic search on TESS, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the USPTO website at and click on the “Trademarks” tab to access the trademark search page.
  2. Click on the “Search Trademarks” button to access the TESS database.
  3. Enter your proposed trademark in the search bar and select the search type. You can search for an exact match, a similar match, or a design code search.
  4. Select the appropriate search fields, including the class of goods and services associated with your proposed trademark.
  5. Click on the “Submit Query” button to begin the search.

The TESS database will generate a list of trademark records that match your search criteria. Review the search results carefully to determine if there are any existing trademarks that are similar to your proposed trademark. You can also review the trademark records to learn more about the trademark owner, registration status, and the goods and services associated with the trademark.

Step 4: Conduct a Comprehensive Search

If the search results show that your proposed trademark is already in use Step 4: Review Search Results

Once you have entered your search criteria and submitted the search, the USPTO’s database will generate a list of results. The search results will include all trademarks that match your search criteria.

It is essential to review the search results carefully to identify any potential conflicts with your proposed trademark. You should pay attention to the marks’ goods and services description, as well as the trademark owner’s name and address.

The search results will also indicate whether the trademark is registered, pending, or abandoned. A registered trademark means that someone already owns the mark, and you cannot use it without permission. A pending trademark means that someone has filed an application for registration, but the USPTO has not yet approved the mark. An abandoned trademark means that someone filed an application, but it was not approved or was abandoned by the applicant.

Step 5: Refine Your Search

If the search results reveal that there are potentially conflicting trademarks, you may need to refine your search criteria. You can try narrowing your search by adding more specific keywords or phrases, adjusting the search filters, or using a different search strategy.

It may also be helpful to conduct a preliminary search on other online databases or search engines to identify any other potential conflicts that the USPTO’s database may have missed.

Step 6: Consider Hiring a Trademark Attorney

While it is possible to conduct a trademark search on your own, it can be a time-consuming and complicated process. If you are serious about protecting your trademark and brand identity, it may be beneficial to hire a trademark attorney.

A trademark attorney can provide expert guidance on conducting a comprehensive trademark search, interpreting the search results, and assessing the risk of potential conflicts. A trademark attorney can also help you navigate the USPTO application process and ensure that your application meets all the legal requirements.


Conducting a trademark search is an essential step in protecting your brand identity and intellectual property. A thorough and accurate trademark search can help you identify potential conflicts, evaluate the strength of your proposed trademark, and avoid costly legal disputes.

The USPTO provides a trademark search process to help entrepreneurs and business owners determine the availability of their proposed trademark. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can conduct an efficient and accurate USPTO trademark search and make an informed decision about registering your trademark.

Remember that conducting a trademark search is just the first step in the trademark registration services process. If your search results indicate that your proposed trademark is available for registration, you will need to submit a trademark application to the USPTO and meet all the legal requirements for trademark registration.

If you have any questions or concerns about conducting a trademark search or the trademark registration process, it may be helpful to consult with a trademark attorney who can provide expert guidance and support.

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