The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) approves and keeps records of all trademarks registered by businesses, individuals and other entities. Trademarks in the USPTO database include trademarks which are active, dead and trademarks which have been submitted, but are still pending approval.
If an individual, business or company is planning to establish a trademark, it is important to first perform a registered trademark search using one of the many available search options offered by the USPTO. A registered trademark search will give a company or entity enough information to rework or alter a trademark so that it does not get rejected for being too similar to another pre-existing trademark. Submitting a trademark to the USPTO without searching the database may cost the company or entity considerable amounts of time and money to court battles.
What Trademark Search Options are Available?
There are several trademark search options available. The USPTO has offered a physical and online public access trademark database at its Public Search Facility located in Alexandria, Virginia for trademarks registered since 1870. The physical database offers trademark records on bound paper volumes and on microfilm. In addition, official Gazettes are available which have valuable news and information about new trademarks and their ownership.
Electronic database search is available in several forms. Trademarks can be searched electronically through the trademark examining attorney automated systems X-search, Trademark Image Capture System (TICRS), the Trademark Reporting and Monitoring System (TRAM), and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board VUE (TTABVUE). Those wishing to search the database remotely can also use the USPTO website from any computer connected to the internet.
The X-search at the USPTO for trademark text and retrieval is the most comprehensive way to search for trademarks. Although the X-search has been designed to be as intuitive as possible, users may feel overwhelmed on their first encounter with it. The USPTO offers a monthly three hour class for individuals to learn how to use the X-search system effectively. It covers all basic text and image search features of the automated system and all the commands structures included in it.
Searching Trademarks Remotely:
Accessing the trademark database at the USPTO for a trademark search is easier than ever due to the internet. Any person or entity with internet access can direct their website browser to www.uspto.gov to perform a quick trademark search of active, dead or pending trademarks within their system using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
An electronic bulletin offers updates and information to the public about the search system and records. Finally, Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDL) are available in many locations nationwide. They provide reference materials and search tools to users through intricate database systems and a trained staff.