How do I perform a trademark search?

Glenn W. Peterson

Many California companies routinely develop new offerings and want to ensure they can properly protect their assets related to these offerings. If you have developed a new product or service and want to trademark a name to go along with that, you will make an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. However, prior to submitting such an application, it is recommended that you conduct a thorough search of existing trademarks. This may help you avoid requesting a trademark that is already granted to someone else or otherwise having your application rejected.

Such a search is conducted through the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS. When embarking on this type of search, you should not only search for the one name that you have identified as your preferred name but others as well. One reason for including other names is so you can research alternatives if your first choice is not available. Another reason is so you learn about any other existing trademarks that may be similar to yours so you can ideally avoid potential conflicts if you learn that another trademark exists in your industry that is very close to the one you want.

You will also want to look up the terms that identify your product or service in the USPTO Acceptable Identification of Goods & Services Manual. As with individual terms, you may find researching similar or related terms useful.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give California individuals and companies an overview of how to conduct a trademark search that provides them with good information with which to make business decisions.