Trademark Tipsheet

Important Information About Trademark Screenings

The Internet has made it possible for you to do trademark screenings. The U. S. Patent & Trademark Office web site at provides access to federal trademark filings through its Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).

If you use TESS, you need to know about its limitations!

TESS may be incomplete or not current.
The USPTO does not guarantee complete and absolute current coverage of federal marks in its TESS system.

TESS may not find every similar trademark.
TESS may not find all similarly sounding or spelled words (phonetic searching). The criteria for trademark infringement is not only SAME AS but also SIMILAR TO. This means you must take exceptional care to include every possible similar word, including foreign spellings of common terms.

TESS may be difficult to use.
Instructions for using TESS are long and complicated. A search strategy which simply uses the exact words of your trademark may be inadequate to find all possibilities.

TESS does not provide the final answer as to whether or not your mark is clear.
TESS is for preliminary screening only. If you find a conflict on TESS, you then have an opportunity to reject your mark and avoid the expense of a more complete search. If you do not find a conflict and you want to increase confidence in your mark, then you should do a more complete search. Also, TESS uses a "dead" and "alive" designation on marks, which may be misleading. A mark in TESS labeled "dead" is usually cancelled or abandoned. However, it may still be in use in the marketplace, in which case it can claim right of use even though its filings are not up to date.

To make your mark more secure, we recommend that you do the following:

Search for marks that are registered at the state level, across all states.
If you do business in other states, whether through a physical presence, by direct mail or over the Internet, you may be infringing upon marks registered only in those states. These are marks you will not find in TESS!

Do a common law usage search.
Usage of a mark in the marketplace, registered or not, can have right of use over a registered mark that cannot prove prior use. A common law usage search should typically include company directories, trade journals, newspapers and appearance on the Internet and use as a domain name.

Use Research Wizard.
Research Wizard gives you full coverage for your trademark screenings – the most complete coverage of federal records that is available, all individual state records, and common law usage, including the Internet.

Research Wizard has been doing trademark screenings for over 15 years. We run your mark through an enhanced trademark system that covers both federal and state filings, plus over 1,000 databases available through major and internationally-known systems that cover company listings, all major newspapers and trade publications and hundreds of industry newsletters and reports, plus the Internet. You receive the output and a complete report of results.