For FAQs and current status of services and policies see UW Libraries Operations Updates
While the Library reference service staff is happy to provide assistance with your patent or trademark research, we cannot perform searches, evaluate searches, assist with your application or dispense legal advice.
The University of Washington and its employees are providing a service of an informational nature with no express or implied warranty for results and assume no obligation or liability for damage arising out of the use, or inability to use, the information provided. Every effort is made to keep this information up to date. However, errors and omissions may occur.
For the most up-to-date information or legal advice, please contact a patent or trademark attorney.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, symbol, design, or combination of letters or numbers or other device which identifies and distinguishes products and services in the marketplace. Protection is renewable indefinitely. Do not confuse trademarks with business names (trade names).
What is a Trademark Search?
A trademark search is a search for all companies or persons using your mark or similar marks in the marketplace. A complete search includes not only Federally registered trademarks, but also state trademarks, trade names, corporation and business names, trade literature, company indexes, business and newspaper indexes. For additional information on the other types of searching see the sections at the end of this search guide.
Can I do a Trademark Search via the Internet?
Some trademark searching can be done using the USPTO Web Trademark Database: US federally registered trademarks and pending registrations. Be sure to read and understand the scope notes, help screens and disclaimers before conducting your search.
Which steps of a complete Trademark search can I do at the UW Engineering Library?
The UW Engineering Library provides computer access to search Federally Registered Trademarks and Federal Trademarks Pending via the USPTO Web Trademark Database, called the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) and other resources from the USPTO. All of these resources are freely available on the Internet. We do not have any information about state marks or unregistered marks whose owners/users are not pursuing federal trademark protection, other than what can be found on the Web.
What capabilities does the USPTO Web Trademark Database have?
Word or Phrase Searching can be done using the USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Using TESS is just ONE step of a complete trademark search.
In Brief: You need to look for:
You must search all variant spellings you can think of to ensure that there are no marks which could have a likelihood of confusion with another registered mark.
Determining a Class for Trademarks:
Search all variant spellings
You will want to search on all variant spellings of your mark. You must try all variant spellings because the USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) searches for terms exactly as they are typed. Please read the "HELP" screens provided on TESS for more information and in order to use the database effectively.
Why do I have to search all variant spellings?
With trademarks you want to avoid the likelihood of confusion in the marketplace. Variant spellings can make marks confusingly similar. Marks can be confusingly similar if they:
Logo or Design Searching can be done using the USPTO Web Trademark Database (TESS). Using TESS is just ONE step of a complete trademark search.
In Brief: Searching for design/logos is a step by step process. You need to:
Determine a Design Search Code.
Use the "Design Search Code Manual". This manual is the guide to classification for logos. Read all of the introduction and general guidelines to the code manual for specific directions. There is an alphabetic index. You must think of all possible aspects of your logo to search and establish codes for each aspect. The logos depicted in the Manual are examples of the subject area only. They are not the only logos registered under that classification. For additional help with design search codes: "Get ready to search - classification and design search codes"
Using the USPTO Web Trademark Database (TESS).
Free Form Search (Advanced Search)
Structured Form Search (Boolean)
Most logos will be viewable from the full record for the trademark. If the logo is not present you will need to look it up in the Official Gazette, available in the Patent and Trademark Research Area. See above for directions on how to locate Trademarks within the Official Gazette.
Complete Federal Trademark Searching at the UW Engineering Library.
Issues of the Trademark Gazette (TMOG) are available online at the USPTO website (2014 to the present). Archived editions available back to 2001. The UW Engineering Library also has older TMOGs in print.
If you use the USPTO Web Trademark Database, TESS, be sure to check the "Update Information" on the main screen to determine the date of the most recent database load. You may need to consult the Trademark Gazette to determine if any relevant mark or logo has been applied for or registered since the date of the latest update.
Check the Trademark Status & Document Retrieval (TSDR) system for the status of any registered or pending trademarks. TSDR is ONLY available on the USPTO Website. Records retrieved using the Trademark Web Database (TESS) have links to the status information.. This status information is not found in the "Official Gazette" or elsewhere on the USPTO website.
There are other sources to consider searching to ensure that no one is already using your potential mark. Just because the mark is not registered on the Federal level does not mean that it is safe to use. The following is a list of suggested resources. It is by no means comprehensive.
Trade names are not the same as trademarks.
Some trade names are also trademarks (in the case of Coca-cola®). But many other companies register trademarks that are completely different from their trade name ( in the case of the Subaru® trademark registered to the company Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd.).
Trademarks are words, names symbols, designs, phrases, slogans, or a combination thereof that are used to identify and distinguish goods in the marketplace. A trademark is a synonym for brand name.
To register a trademark on the federal level you must be using it or have an intent to use it in interstate commerce. Trademarks can be registered on the Federal level and/or the State level.
Trademark law protects both trademarks (on goods) and service marks (on services).
All names that identify business entities are trade names. Trade name is a synonym for company name.
Each state has business license requirements which involve registering these names with the city, county, or state offices. Corporations must usually register with their Office of Secretary of State.
For information about trade names, business names, corporations and state trademarks in the State of Washington, please click on the State Trademarks tab.