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How to Do a Trademark Search on TESS

Using the Basic Search

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In a prior article in this series about protecting your arts and crafts intellectual property by trade marking your name, logo or slogan, I advise that a good ball park for trademark filing fees with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is $325. I also gave you a bit of information about finding and using an attorney to do both a trademark search and prepare the paperwork for you.

Prices for these services vary. If you can find a reputable law firm to take care this for you for under $1,500 (including the filing fee), the time you save may very well be worth it!

Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney. My following adventure in the TESS system not meant to represent any type of legal advice. I am merely showing you the steps I took to research my domain name and slogan on the TESS website.

Doing a Trademark Search

I do want to try to do the trademark search myself. However, please remember that, your first step is to do common law searches by at least checking out what's showing up on the internet, using your trademark as a search word or phrase.

And, optimally doing more than that such as Secretary of State websites to see what's in the their state trademark databases. In the first article of this series, I recommend that you secure a .com domain name as soon as you settle on your new arts and crafts business name. If the domain name is available, your chance that the trademark is open as well just got better. However, you never know for sure until you do the search.

Using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)

Start with the TESS by selecting the easiest option Basic Word Mark Search. Enter your trademark search term in the text box and hit Submit Query.

So to test that I got this basic concept I entered 'mickey mouse', with the return of a bunch of trademarks live and dead. Didn't think ole mickey would be available but it was reassuring to get some expected results.

When searching for my .com domain name, if I select The Exact Search Phrase in the Results Must Contain drop-down menu, I received the message that No TESS records were found to match the criteria of your query.

So then I changed from the 'exact' search to the other search options, which brought up a bunch of results not for my domain name but for which the goods and services description included a single word in my domain name.

For example, if my domain name was loughran-jewelry.com, the goods and services descriptions included the generic term 'jewelry'. This is important because, the USPTO may refuse your registration because a similar mark is already registered for related products or services.

Next I searched for my slogan. I first experimented by putting in 'diamonds by the yard' which I know Elsa Peretti® has trademarked. Yup, sure enough TESS gave me the results I expected. I printed that trademark info, to use as a sort of cheat sheet for my typed drawing slogan trademark application.

Using Boolean Connectors

The first time I queried my slogan, I received the error message 'Invalid mixing of operator levels'. Fooling around with my slogan, it appears to me that I was receiving the error message because the first word in my slogan is a Boolean connector, which messes with the search. Examples of Boolean connectors are: and, not, or.

Reading further down the page, I found instructions to add quotes to the slogan since it started with a Boolean connector and tah dah! I once again received the message 'No TESS records were found to match the criteria of your query".

Review of the TESS Search Function

I found the simple search very easy to use. I did briefly look through the instructions for the other two search options. They were a bit more complex and thankfully beyond the scope of what I need to do for my simple word research.

Bottom line - even with this research, my trademark application could be turned down because of something I didn't notice. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to use an attorney to do the trademark search and application for you.

Next up, I'll be preparing the application for my slogan.

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