When it comes to doing trademark search, the USPTO website is the one that offers plenty of opportunities and options for trademark search professionals. This trademark search database is one of the most preferred databases that are available to searchers and trademark professionals. With this article, our main aim is to highlight how we should do a trademark search in this database and what are the opportunities available to searchers in it.
With this article, we’ll look at all the search features available on Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
Search options available in TESS
The Trademark Electronic Search System, also known as TESS can be accessed through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. The system is considered as a goldmine for those, intending to do a comprehensive, thorough and detailed trademark search for a mark. The USPTO’s database contains databases of registered trademarks and prior pending applications that can help searchers determine if their intended mark is safe to use.
There are three different search options available in TESS database that we can use as per our requirement and need.
Fig: Search Options available in Home Page of TESS Database
Basic Word Mark Search – The ‘Basic Word Mark Search’ is the first option among the three different search options that are available in Trademark Electronic Search System database. Unlike rest of the two options, this option can’t be used to search design marks and is typically useful for those trademark search professionals who are uninitiated.
Once we select the basic word mark search option from the TESS homepage, we will land-up on to a fielded search form, with a drop-down menu displaying the search history at the top of the form. This fielded search form comes-up with plenty of features and functions that help people refine their search as per their need.
If a searcher is not satisfied with the ‘basic word mark search‘ option and wish to conduct an ‘Advanced Trademark Search’ they can do so by clicking on the ‘Structured Tab’ available on the blue horizontal menu at the top of the form.
Depending on whether the searcher wants to search for “singular and plural” term or only “singular” can be done so by opting the respective radio button that is available in the search form. Similarly, depending on the fact whether we want to search for ‘Live’ trademarks only, or ‘Dead’ trademarks only or ‘Live and Dead’ both we can do so by checking in the respective radio buttons that allow us to do so.
Apart from above mentioned features a single search form is also available where users can enter their intended search term and select the field (or group of fields) from a drop-down menu. The user can use various operators like AND, OR, and Exact Match to direct the database if that the results must contain all search terms (AND), any search terms (OR), or the exact phrase.
Fig: Basic Word Mark Search Form
Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured) – This is the second search option that is available to a trademark search professional in the TESS database. Unlike the ‘Basic Word Mark Search’ option, this lets users search the word marks as well as the intended design marks.
However, before entering the intended design mark a user needs to refer to the “Design Search Code Manual” to look up the relevant Design Codes. It is important to get the relevant search code for a particular design, otherwise, we will end-up with datasets that are irrelevant and unrelated to our intended design mark.
As far as the look, feel and functionality of this search form concerned it’s very similar to the previous one, that consists of a “fielded search form” which opens after we click the Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured) option present in the TESS home page.
Like the basic word mark search form, this too contains a drop-down menu displaying the search history at the top of the form. If we wish to switch on to the basic word mark search form we can do so by clicking the “New User” tab available in the blue horizontal menu in the page.
Depending on the number of search results we want on per page, we can direct the database to return the specific number of search results that varies from (100-500).
Like the previous search form we can search for “Singular” results, or Plural results depending on our need. Two text forms are available, connected by a Boolean operator (which the user can select from a drop-down menu). Drop down menus are positioned adjacent to each text box where the user can select from all available fields.
Two different text forms are available where we can put-in our intended design search term with a provision to narrow it on the basis of 19 different search fields. Apart from using 19 “different search fields” we can also use 8 different “search operators” to refine and narrow our trademark search.
The 19 different search fields that are available in the “word and/or design mark search” form are mentioned below:
Abandonment Date, Affidavits, Assignment Recorded, Attorney of Record, Basic Index (Combined MP + PM + MN), Coordinated Class, Cancellation Date, Change in Registration, Current Basis, Decimal Mark, Description of Mark, Design Code, Design Description, Disclaimer Statement, Distinctiveness Limitation Statement, Filling Date, Full mark, Goods and Services, and International Class.
The 8 different search operators those we can use to refine and narrow down our search are as mentioned below: OR, And, NOT, XOR, SAME, WITH, NEAR and ADJ.
Fig: Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured) Form
See various field options that are available in Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured) Form below.
Fig: Search Fields in Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form)
Let’s see various operators those we can use in Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form) below:
Fig: Various Operators used in TESS Database
Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form) – This is the third option that is available in the TESS database. Basically, this form is meant for those trademark search professionals who are expert in doing trademark search and has used other two mentioned platforms thoroughly. With this option, the trademark search professional can construct word and/or design searches using Boolean logic and multiple search fields.
Putting it other way round we can say that it offers a command line interface wherein the user can construct complex queries using operators and various fields available in the database. Like the Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form), here too, we must refer to the Design Search Code Manual to look up the relevant Design Codes.
For full, detailed guidance on constructing search queries using the system syntax please visit this Tess Help Menu.
Fig: Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form)
Besides these, three main search forms, additional search features that are available in TESS database are:
Browse Dictionary Search Form – This search returns results in a dictionary format wherein results are displayed in a dictionary-style (alphabetic) format. With this search form, we can enter a key-word and the database will return an alphabetical list of terms containing the keyword along with the number of related documents and hits for each term.
Fig: Browse Dictionary Form
Search OG Publication Date or Registration Date (Search OG) Form: This is the fifth and last option that is available in the TESS database. This option searches the Official Gazette for marks published or registered on a particular date.
Fig: Official Gazette Search Form
To sum everything up we can say that the TESS database is one of the most preferred trademark search databases used by trademark searchers. However, executing a search in this database is not like a search engine search wherein keyword is the only limiting factor. Here we have plenty of parameters (assignment date, attorney of record, Affidavits, Assignment Recorded, Attorney of Record, Basic Index (Combined MP + PM + MN), Coordinated Class, Cancellation Date) and many, many more that can be a limiting factor for your search.
Apart from various fields and parameters we also need to understand the patent regulatory regime of that particular geographical location. Since each database is built keeping in mind the regulatory norms of that particular jurisdiction the algorithm for each varies. For example, TESS database have different algorithm while EUROPA (Trademark database for European Union) may have a different algorithm and hence search should be designed accordingly.
In case you are an uninitiated and willing to invest your valuable resources into a mark, hiring professional trademark searchers can be the best option.