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Trademark Searching Using TESS and Other Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I search for registered and pending USPTO trademarks?

At TESS: Trademark Electronic Search System ( TESS is for searching all pending and registered  USPTO Trademarks and viewing Trademark images.  

There are three choices available for searching: Basic Word Mark Search (New User) | Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured)  | Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form)  | . If you are not familiar with the system, you may want to start on a Basic Word Mark Search. See TESS page below for the ‘Select a Search Option ‘. See Published for Opposition search instructions for specific search instructions on how to use TESS for searching for marks that have been published for opposition.

What is in TESS? The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) contains the records of active (LIVE) and inactive (DEAD) trademark registrations and applications for both the Principal Register and the Supplemental Register. Active or LIVE marks may be used by the USPTO examining attorney to determine that a "likelihood of confusion" exists. Inactive or DEAD marks may still be in use by the original applicants who may have not registered or renewed their marks or the marks may be abandoned.

Whether or not a likelihood of confusion exists is dependent on the goods/services identifications, a good search followed by a good strategic identification of goods/services may avoid a likelihood of confusion refusal. Direct hit or dead-on searching may give false assurances as to trademark clearance.

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Whether or not a likelihood of confusion exists is dependent on the goods/services identifications, a good search followed by a good strategic identification of goods/services may avoid a likelihood of confusion refusal. Direct hit or dead-on searching may give false assurances as to trademark clearance.

What is NOT in TESS?  Common Law Trademarks. Some trademark owners with valid and protected trademark rights (common law rights acquired by use) do not choose to register their marks with the USPTO, so those marks will not be found in TESS.  However, you should still consider these other marks when adopting a mark for your goods and/or services.  If a trademark is being used in the United States, the owner may have legally protected rights that are not the result of the USPTO registration process.  

To maximize the commercial strength and minimize the weaknesses of a trademark, Not Just Patents ® recommends using our Trademark E Search.

Why should I perform a search? One purpose of a trademark search is to help determine whether a “likelihood of confusion” exists, i.e., whether any mark has already been registered or applied for at the USPTO that is (1) the same OR similar to your mark; and (2) used on related products or for related services.  Note that the identical mark could possibly be registered to different parties if the goods and/or services are in no way related, e.g., for computers and soft drinks.  Note: The USPTO does not refund your application fee if registration of your mark is refused. Many product launches run into severe problems when trademarks are refused for likelihood of confusion, mere descriptiveness or for other reasons: gambling on results may not be a great strategy. Commercial strength and the ability to do well on a search engine search are vital aspects of a trademark strength. Not Just Patents ® recommends using our Trademark E Search rather than just doing a quick search on TESS. But a quick search on TESS is a good place to start. Beware that TESS is a very literal search engine and relies on the skill of the searcher to know how to search beyond direct hits and search for similarity.

Will my mark register if I do not find anything in TESS? No, not necessarily. USPTO trademark examiners (attorneys) make decisions on whether marks may be registered on more than just a lack of “likelihood of confusion.” After you file your application, the USPTO will conduct its own search and other review, and might refuse your mark, based on several different possible grounds for refusal.  Once you submit your application, the USPTO will not cancel the filing or refund your fee, unless the application fails to satisfy minimum filing requirements.  

Filing an application does not guarantee registration and registration does not guarantee safety from lawsuits or other legal proceedings since a USPTO registration is only based on conflicts with other USPTO marks not with conflicts with common law marks. Statistically few trademarks are canceled each year and the number of cancellation proceedings on registered marks is quite low.

How should I search? The following are search principles that USPTO examiners use when searching to see if new applications will have a likelihood of confusion with already pending or registered marks. Note that this search method goes well beyond direct hit searching. Note that searching just TESS will not reveal if there are unregistered trademark owners using any particular mark and that these principles are employed by trademark examiners that are already familiar with trademark law and the meanings of terms such as “distinctive element” and “legal equivalent.”

[Trademark] Search Principles [TESS or other databases]

(From the USPTO at

Following are the likelihood of confusion search principles used by the USPTO that you may want to consider prior to submitting a trademark application. You must decide which of these search principles may be appropriate for your trademark search. Even if you diligently follow all these search principles, that does not necessarily guarantee that you will find all potential citations under Section 2(d) of the Trademark Act.

  1.     Conduct a Thorough Search.
  2.     Search All Forms of all the Distinctive Elements of the Mark.
  3.     Search Each Distinctive Element Alone.
  4.     Search Acronyms AND What They Stand For.
  5.     Search All the Legal Word Equivalents of Terms.
  6.     Search Component Parts of Individual Terms When Necessary.
  7.     Searches for Marks Consisting of Two or More Separate Terms Should be Conducted so that the Two Terms Would be Retrieved Whether They Run Together or are Separate.
  8.     Search Pictorial Equivalents for Distinctive Terms and Vice Versa When Appropriate.
  9.     Search all Phonetic Equivalents
  10.     Search all English Equivalents

U.S. Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual (ID Manual)


When the electronic ID Manual opens, the Search selection box shows the All Fields search field as the default field. You can use the selection arrow to choose a specific field in which to conduct your search. If you do not make a selection, the All Fields search field will be automatically selected as the search field.

 ALL FIELDS searches for all goods and services in which the search term appears. ALL FIELDS permits you to build search queries that access the other available search fields. By tagging search terms with the appropriate field tag and utilizing Boolean Operators, you are able to search across multiple fields when using the ALL FIELDS selection.

 Descriptive term: A query for a word will retrieve all records containing that word.

For example, a search for dog will retrieve all records containing dog or dogs

 Class numbers: A query for a class number retrieves all goods and services in that class.

For example, a query for “012” retrieves all goods in class 12. Note: class must be entered in three (3) digits and should be enclosed in double quotes. If you enter a descriptive term – such as golf and “012” (for the class), it will find goods in International Class 12 in which golf is a part of the identification.

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In ALL FIELDS, you may conduct a more complex search by entering the appropriate search terms, field tags, and Boolean operators.

For example, a query for (automobile[DE] and s[GS]) not 037[IC] retrieves all services concerning automobiles other than the repair-type services in International Class 37.

The system automatically searches for the plural or singular form of the search term. A possessive is treated as a plural form.

A query for dog retrieves all records containing dog and dogs. A query for dogs finds all records containing dogs and dog.

A query for glass finds all records containing glass and glasses. A query for glasses finds all records containing glasses and glass.

The system also searches for special plural forms such as knives and mice. The rules are the same as those applied in the X-Search application. For a full explanation, see the X-Search Help menu.

 GOODS/SERVICES (G/S) allows a search for the type of entry, e.g., goods or services by using S or G.

For example, a query for S retrieves all services.

A query for G retrieves all goods.

CLASS searches for all goods in a particular International Class.

The class number must be entered as three digits enclosed in double quotes, e.g., "007".

 DESCRIPTION searches for goods and services containing the searched term(s).

For example, a query for computer retrieves all goods and services containing computer or computers.

A query for computer and program retrieves all goods and services containing computer(s) and program(s).

 STATUS (A/D/M) searches for an entry that has been ADOPTED, DELETED, or MODIFIED, respectively.

 DATE (YYYYMMDD) searches for an entry that has been adopted, deleted, or modified on a particular date. A specific date must be entered.


AND, &, space

The AND operator may be a single space, the ampersand (&), or the word ‘and’. For example, the three queries below would find the same information:

Golf Clubs

Golf & Clubs

Golf and Clubs

The AND, &, or space query operators require that both words on either side of the operator appear in the same record. If only one of the words is found in a record, the record is not a hit. For example, a query for Golf and Clubs finds all records which contains both Golf(s) and Club(s). If a record contains Golf(s) but not Club(s), then the record is not a hit. Similarly, if a record contains Club(s) but not Golf(s), then the record is not a hit.


The only OR operator is the word or.

The OR query operator requires that at least one of the words on either side of the operator appears in a record.

For example, a query for Golf or Clubs finds all records which contain Golf(s) or which contain Club(s) or which contain both Golf(s) and Club(s). If a record contains neither Golf(s) or Club(s), then the record is not a hit.


The NOT operator is the word not. The caret (^) is not functional in this application.

The NOT operator may be used between two words. This will find all records containing the first word but which do not contain the second. For example, a query for Golf not Clubs finds all records which contain Golf(s) and which do not contain Club(s).

The NOT operator excludes records containing the word following the operator. It requires that the word following the operator not be in a record for that record to be counted as a hit.

For example, a query for not Golf finds all records which do not have Golf. If a record contains Golf, then the record is not a hit.

A query for Golf not Clubs retrieves all records containing golf or golfs, but not clubs.

A query for Golf not "028" retrieves all records in which the word golf or golfs appear, except for those in International Class 28.

XOR (Exclusive Or)

The XOR (exclusive or) operator is the letter xor. The tilde (~) is not operational.

The XOR requires that one of the words on either side of the operator appears in a record, but not both.

For example, Golf xor Clubs finds all records which contain Golf(s) but not Club(s) or which contain Club(s) but not Golf(s). If a record contains both Golf(s) and Club(s), then the record is not a hit.



Submit Query Button

Initiates the search of the query item.

Can also be initiated by pressing Enter.

Refine Search

When the initial search retrieves a hit list, a box above the hit list allows you to refine your search. The initial query is displayed in the box and this can either be changed or deleted to initiate a new query. Contrary to the implication of its name, the resultant search is conducted in the entire database and not just within the prior results.

Reset Button

Clears the query field.



The system uses the BRS search engine dollar sign $ for an unlimited number of additional characters truncation search.

For example, a query for flo$ will retrieve flower, flowers, floor, flow, etc.

What is Verifying a Trademark and Why Verify a Trademark? There are many different definitions for verifying a trademark. Some believe that it involves a mechanical quick search of USPTO records to look for direct hits (some call this a clearance search). Some would expand the mechanical USPTO search to look for some ‘similar’ trademarks. Some would expand the search to include common law trademarks. When the clearance process is entirely mechanical and only looks for direct hits, minimal information is obtained. There are lots of questions that should be asked and more than direct hits should be analyzed.

A plan for a strong trademark is one that includes answers to trademark issues like:

 See Why Not Just Patents? if you have already applied and been refused.

Trademark Searching Using TESS and other FAQ TSDR Trademark Status and Document Retrieval Why Not Just Patents? Can I Use An Abandoned/Dead Trademark? How to Abandon a Trademark & TMEP 718 What is the Difference Between TEAS, TEAS PLUS and TEAS RF? What is the Difference Between Principal Register and Supplemental Register? How Do I Know Which Trademark Filing Basis to Use? What Does Use in Commerce Mean For a Trademark? What are the Steps in a Trademark Opposition Process? UDRP Domain names

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Not Just Patents®

Aim Higher® Facts Matter

Call 1-651-500-7590 or email [email protected] for Responses to Office Actions; File or Defend an Opposition or Cancellation; Trademark Searches and Applications; Send or Respond to Cease and Desist Letters.

For more information from Not Just Patents, see our other pages and sites:      

Is my business name trademarkable? What is Trademark Intensity TMI? How do I build my trademark intensity?

Trademark e Search  Strong Trademark  Enforcing Trade Names

Common Law Trademarks Trademark Goodwill Abandoned Trademarks -Why use 1(b) filing basis?   Is the technology listed in your trademark registration obsolete?

Trademark Disclaimers Trademark Dilution TSDR Status Descriptors

Oppose or Cancel? Examples of Disclaimers  Business Cease and Desist

Patent, Trademark & Copyright Inventory Forms

USPTO Search Method for Likelihood of Confusion

Verify a Trademark  Be First To File    How to Trademark Search

Are You a Content Provider-How to Pick an ID  Specimens: webpages

Section 8 Affidavit  How to Keep A Trade Secret

Decrease Vulnerability to Audit/Cancellation  Facts Matter

Using Slogans (Taglines), Model Numbers as Trademarks

Which format? When Should I  Use Standard Characters?

How much does it cost to renew a trademark?    

Patent or Trademark Assignments  Opposition Pleadings    

Oppositions-The Underdog    TTAB Discovery Conference Checklist

How To Answer A Trademark Cease and Desist Letter

Trademark Integrity: Are your IP assets vulnerable?

teas plus vs teas reduced fee  Insurance Extension

Trademark Refusals    Does not Function as a Mark Refusals

Advantages of ®  Difference Between TEAS Plus and TEAS regular

How to Respond to Office Actions  Final Refusal

Requirements for a Design Patent  Design Patenting

Acceptable Specimen  Supplemental Register $224 Statement of Use

How To Show Acquired Distinctiveness Under 2(f)

Trademark-Request for Reconsideration

Why Not Just Patents? Functional Trademarks   How to Trademark  

What Does ‘Use in Commerce’ Mean?    Opposition Defense    

Grounds for Opposition & Cancellation     Cease and Desist Letter

Trademark Incontestability  TTAB Manual (TBMP)

Valid/Invalid Use of Trademarks     Trademark Searching

TTAB/TBMP Discovery Conferences & Stipulations

TBMP 113 TTAB Document Service  TBMP 309 Standing

Citable Examples and General Rules for Likelihood of Confusion

Examples of Refusals for Likelihood of Confusion   DuPont Factors

What are Dead or Abandoned Trademarks?

Can I Use An Abandoned Trademark?

Color as Trade Dress  3D Marks as Trade Dress  

Can I Abandon a Trademark During An Opposition?

Differences between TEAS, TEAS RF and TEAS plus  

Extension of Time to Oppose  Cease and Desist DIY

Ornamental Refusal  Standard TTAB Protective Order

SCAM Letters Surname Refusal  Trademark Opposition Timeline

What Does Published for Opposition Mean?

What to Discuss in the Discovery Conference

Descriptive Trademarks  What Can Be Trademarked  

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Likelihood of Confusion 2d  TMOG Trademark Tuesday

Acquired Distinctiveness  2(f) or 2(f) in part

Merely Descriptive Trademarks  Merely Descriptive Refusals

ID of Goods and Services see also Headings (list) of International Trademark Classes

Register a Trademark-Step by Step  

Protect Business Goodwill Extension of Time to Oppose

Geographically Descriptive or Deceptive

Change of Address with the TTAB using ESTTA

Likelihood of confusion-Circuit Court tests

Pseudo Marks    How to Reply to Cease and Desist Letter

Not Just Patents Often Represents the Underdog

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 Merely Descriptive Refusal   Overcome Likelihood Confusion

Protecting Trademark Rights (Common Law)

Steps in a Trademark Opposition Process   

Section 2(d) Refusals

Zombie Trademark trademarks to build value

What is the Difference between Principal & Supplemental Register?

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Typical Brand Name Refusals  What is a Family of Marks? What If Someone Files An Opposition Against My Trademark?

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How to Respond Office Actions  

DIY Overcoming Descriptive Refusals

Trademark Steps Trademark Registration Answers TESS database  

Trademark Searching Using TESS  Trademark Search Tips

Trademark Clearance Search   DIY Trademark Strategies

Published for Opposition  What is Discoverable in a TTAB Proceeding?

Counterclaims and Affirmative Defenses

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Bolsos de paja 19994 para mujer, paja flores pastorales tejidas de en la playa, con asa superior Verde ejército 1ac7639 m.Trademark Searching Using TESS
Bolsas Totes m.TSDR Trademark Status and Document Retrieval Trademark Status and Document Retrieval TSDR
m.Can I Use A Dead Trademark?
m.What is the Difference Between TEAS, TEAS Plus, TEAS RF
m.What is "Use In Commerce"?
m.Trademark Opposition Steps
m.UDRP domain names