Trademarking a name is an important step to take if you want to legally protect the name of your business or product. However, before you can secure a trademark, you need to run a trademark check against state and federal databases to find out if the name you want to trademark is still available.
How to Do a Trademark Search:
1. Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office Website.
Go to uspto.gov/trademark. Under the "Search Trademarks" heading, you'll see an option that says, "How to use the Trademark Electronic Search System." Selecting this will take you to a page with helpful tips for starting your search, including:
- How to use the basic word mark search function.
- How to do a word and design mark search.
- How to do a free form search.
2. Use the Trademark Electronic Search System.
Once you have reviewed the instructions, click the link on the same page to the Trademark Electronic Search System. This is the federal trademark database. This system does not necessarily contain all trademark information, but it will display any federal records in relation to the trademark that you are seeking (if any exist).
Select the search option that you would like to use, adjust the fields as necessary and enter your search term into the form, then click "Submit Query." A page will load with all of the relevant results.
For example, entering "Google" into the TESS system yields a page with a list of all trademarked names containing the word "Google."
If no records exist for your search term, the screen will display a message that says, "No TESS records were found to match the criteria of your query."
3. Check state records.
The absence of a trademark in the federal TESS database does not necessarily mean that the trademark you want to secure is available. After you have checked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you should check state records.
Most of the time, records of a trademark at the state level are stored and managed by the Secretary of State. Visit your Secretary of State's departmental website for more information and to conduct an online search.
4. Secure your trademark.
Once you have completed your searches and are confident that the trademark you are pursuing is in fact available, you can trademark your business name.
How do I find out if a name is trademarked?
How do I check a trademark status?
The federal Trademark Electronic Search System displays the status of each trademark in its search results. By selecting "TSDR" in the results window, you can view the filing status of a trademark and any associated documents.
Can I use a dead trademark?
Technically, you can use a dead trademark. However, another company may still be using it and may, therefore, take legal action against you on the grounds that they have Common Law rights to the name. Most experts do not recommend using a dead trademark.
What is a dead trademark?
A "dead" trademark is a trademark that was once active but has become inactive because it was either abandoned, had a lapsed registration, or was reassigned.