What is TESS

When filing for US trademark registration, it is important to conduct a trademark search using the Trademark Electronic Search System – TESS. The search should be conducted prior to sending the official application to the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademarks Office). If the USPTO finds that the mark is unavailable, or is too similar to existing registered marks, they will reject the application. It is advisable to enlist the professional assistance of a trademark attorney or professional consultancy firm when requiring a trademark search.

TESS explained

The Trademark Electronic Search System is available online for the public to perform various trademark searches to ascertain the availability and uniqueness of their mark. TESS is free of charge to use and is a helpful tool that all trademark owners, attorneys and consultancy firms should be aware of when filing for a US trademark registration.

The TESS comprises all registered and pending trademarks in the US and allows individuals to perform a detailed analysis to conclude whether their mark will infringe the rights of others or not. It also enables individuals to ascertain the likeliness of their mark causing confusion to the public.

It is important to understand how to interpret the results of your search to ensure that your mark has the highest chance of being approved by the USPTO once it is filed. For example, if a mark is found in a search that is similar or the same as your trademark, this would usually mean that your mark cannot obtain registration rights. However, there is a Live/Dead indicator on each mark, which shows whether it is ‘active’ (Live) or ‘non in use’ (Dead) – where the mark is dead, this cannot be used to block your registration.

Due to the broad scope of the TESS, and the complexity that surrounds the interpretation of search results, it is recommended for mark owners to seek professional assistance with their trademark search and registration.

Starting Business provide a range of trademark services including registration, search, design and renewal. View our Trademark Services section to learn more.