Trademark Search 101 – Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog series, we introduced the three search options available in the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS): Basic Word Mark Search, Structured Word and/or Design Mark Search, and Free Form Word and/or Design Mark Search. We also discussed the difference between these options and the factors to consider when choosing the best option for your trademark.

In this blog, we will focus on how to use the Basic Word Mark Search option, which is the simplest and easiest way to search for word marks only

Basic Word Search

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In Part 1 of this blog series, we introduced the three search options available in the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS): Basic Word Mark Search, Structured Word and/or Design Mark Search, and Free Form Word and/or Design Mark Search. We also discussed the difference between these options and the factors to consider when choosing the best option for your trademark.

In this blog, we will focus on how to use the Basic Word Mark Search option, which is the simplest and easiest way to search for word marks only. A word mark is a trademark that consists of words, letters, numbers or any combination thereof. For example, “Nike” and “Coca-Cola” are word marks.

We will explain all of the search features, options and tips for using the Basic Word Mark Search option, and we will also show you an example of how to conduct a basic word mark search step by step.

How to Use the Basic Word Mark Search Option

To use the Basic Word Mark Search option, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Visit the TESS Basic Word Mark Search page at https://tmsearch.uspto.gov

  2. Enter the trademark you’re searching for in the “Search Term” box. You can use one or more words in your query.

  3. Choose an option from the “Field” drop-down list. This tells TESS which type of information to search for in the database. The options are:

    • Combined Word Mark: This option searches for the English words used in all marks and the English translations of foreign words or characters in all marks. This is the default option and the most comprehensive one for word marks.

    • Serial or Registration Number: This option searches 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. This option is useful if you know the exact number of a mark you are looking for.

    • Owner Name and Address: This option searches by owner name and address. This option is useful if you want to find all marks owned by a specific person or entity.

    • All: This option searches all fields in the database. This option is not recommended because it may return too many irrelevant results.

  4. Choose an option from the “Result Must Contain” drop-down list. This tells TESS how to match your query with the records in the database. The options are:

    • All Search Terms: This option returns only records that contain all of the words in your query exactly as they appear. For example, if you enter “Nike Air”, this option will return only records that contain “Nike Air” as a phrase.

    • Any Search Terms: This option returns records that contain any of the words in your query, regardless of their order or position. For example, if you enter “Nike Air”, this option will return records that contain “Nike”, “Air”, or both words anywhere in the record.

    • Entire Query As Entered: This option returns records that match your query exactly as you entered it, including any spaces, punctuation or special characters. For example, if you enter “Nike-Air”, this option will return only records that contain “Nike-Air” as a term.

  5. Click “Submit Query”. TESS will then display a list of records that match your query according to your chosen options. You can review individual records by clicking on them.

  6. Perform wild card searches using special characters to enhance your search. Wild cards are symbols that can replace one or more characters in your query to find variations of your trademark. Some wild cards available in TESS are:

  • * This symbol replaces zero or more characters at the beginning or end of a word. For example, if you enter NIKE*, this will find “NIKE”, “NIKES”, “NIKE AIR”, as well as “NIKEL”, “NIKELAND”, etc.

  • $ This symbol is also used for truncation in any field, but its results can sometimes cause a reduced list of results. Between the two, * is typically the better wild card to use.

  • ? This symbol replaces zero or one character anywhere in the middle of a word. For example, if you enter “N?KE”, this will find “NIKE”, “NUKE”, but not “NUKO”.

Example of a Basic Word Mark Search

Let’s say you want to register a trademark for your new brand of sports shoes called “Niky”. You want to do a basic word mark search to see if there are any existing trademarks that are similar to yours and used on related products or services.

To do a basic word mark search, you would follow these steps:

  1. Visit the TESS Basic Word Mark Search page at https://tmsearch.uspto.gov/

  2. Enter “Niky” in the “Search Term” box.

  3. Choose “Combined Word Mark” from the “Field” drop-down list. This will search for the word “Niky” in all marks and their translations.

  4. Choose “Any Search Terms” from the “Result Must Contain” drop-down list. This will return records that contain “Niky” or any part of it anywhere in the record.

  5. Click “Submit Query”. TESS will then display a list of records that match your query. At the time of this writing there are 10 records in total, some of which are similar to your trademark, such as “NIKY”, “NIKY’S”, “NIKY SPORTS”, etc.

  6. Perform wild card searches using special characters to enhance your search. For example, you can enter “NIK$” in the “Search Term” box and click “Submit Query” again. This will return records that contain “NIK” followed by zero or more characters, such as “NIKE”, “NIKI”, “NIKO”, etc. This time, our search results include over 2000 records in total, some of which are more similar to your trademark, such as “NIKE”, “NIKE AIR”, “NIKE PLUS”, etc.

By doing a basic word mark search, you can get an idea of how many and what kind of trademarks are already registered or applied for that are similar to yours and used on related products or services. This can help you assess the likelihood of confusion between your trademark and existing trademarks, and decide whether to proceed with your trademark application or modify your trademark.

Conclusion

In this blog, we have explained how to use the Basic Word Mark Search option in TESS, which is the simplest and easiest way to search for word marks only. We have also shown you an example of how to conduct a basic word mark search step by step.

The Basic Word Mark Search option is useful for beginners who want to do a quick and simple search for word marks. However, it has some limitations, such as:

  • It cannot be used to search for design marks or composite marks that include both words and designs.

  • It cannot be used to search for specific fields or criteria, such as the owner name, registration date, goods and services description or international class.

  • It cannot be used to search for design codes or phonetic equivalents.

In Part 3 of this blog series, we will show you how to use the Structured Word and/or Design Mark Search option, which is a more advanced way to search for word marks, design marks or composite marks. Stay tuned!